‘We’re losing adult learners’: KY Council of Postsecondary Education President visits EKY

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:41 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The president for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Aaron Thompson visited Perry County on Tuesday.

He led conversations with community, workforce and education leaders about why higher education matters. During one of his discussions Thompson said the goal is for 60% of high school graduates in Kentucky to have a credential that matters by 2030.

Thompson added, “Doesn’t have to be a four-year degree, maybe not even a two-year degree but it has to be a postsecondary certificate of some sort. We’ve done really well. I mean we’re at 54.5% now toward that 60%.”

He said that the state is doing well but with that 60% goal there are problems and concerns.

“We’re losing adult learners. We’re losing students that are graduating from high school and not going to college only 47.8% that are graduating from high school and going to college. We’re having a declining enrollment in high school,” he said.

He also mentioned that 90% of the jobs in Kentucky require some form of postsecondary education, and the state relies on more citizens working to keep the local and state economy booming.

“Every student should have the ability that comes from that generation to be able to have that experience in college and a degree or credential that matters to come back to Perry County and to help build this county,” said Thompson.

He said that their goal is to reserve the downward turn, and they understand that students need basic needs met. Statistics reveal three out of five students are dealing with mental health struggles, but postsecondary schools like Hazard Community and Technical College have tools to help with many of these issues.

“We connect them with things like childcare, transportation, we have food banks on our campuses,” said Jennifer Lindon, HCTC President. “It’s really just a holistic approach to making sure our students are successful. So, through that success zone we’re able to connect those students and help them face any barriers that they might encounter while they are in college.”

Thompson spoke at the Hazard/Perry County Chamber of Commerce meeting on Tuesday, and he met with staff at Hazard Community and Technical College to discuss plans for improving postsecondary education in Eastern Kentucky.