Online Occupational Education in Community Colleges: Prevalence, Programming, and Connection with Workforce Development Needs

Publication Rod Patrick Githens, Timothy M. Sauer, Fashaad L. Crawford, and Kristin B. WilsonSeptember 2012

This study examined the current state of online occupational programs in community colleges and explored issues related to institutional, economic, and social indicators that influence (a) the offering of online programs and (b) the programmatic connection to workforce development needs. The study is based on a random sample of 321 institutions in the United States. This project is the first national study categorizing online occupational programs according to the Career Clusters and Career Pathways classification scheme. Although research has shown that most institutions offer online occupational courses, only 47.5% of colleges in the sample offered credit-granting online occupational programs. Additionally, despite research finding that skill-based programs requiring manipulative skill development can be successfully taught online, this study found that few such programs exist. Finally, our research indicated that occupational program development is not driven by statewide economic indicators, such as the state’s fastest growing occupations, suggesting a moderate responsiveness to states’ workforce development needs.

Githens, R. P., Sauer, T. M., Crawford, F. L., & Wilson, K. B. (2012). Online occupational education in community colleges: Prevalence, programming, and connection with workforce development needs. Career and Technical Education Research, 37(1), 35-56.

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