The Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) will fund 12 research projects that examine “relations between postsecondary education, including education and training prior to the bachelor‘s degree level, and employment outcomes.” North Carolina will be a site of the first project. Arne Kalleberg of the University of North Carolina (not to be confused with busing proponent Richard Kahlenburg) is the principal investigator.
This 5-year analysis using North Carolina data will analyze the employment and earnings outcomes for different community college pathways and awards. Thus, the outcomes for this project will include employment (e.g., industry and occupation), patterns of employment and unemployment, and earnings. For pathways, specific attention will be paid to: (1) remedial education, (2) vocational/technical programs, and (3) patterns and timing of student progression through programs of study. For awards, specific attention will be paid to: (1) sub-baccalaureate credentials, (2) non-credit programs, (3) adult basic education programs, and (4) bachelor’s degrees. Variation in the benefits of college will be examined by student characteristics, including age, gender, prior education, work experience, and specific community college.
Employment outcome studies are valuable because they allow taxpayers to see the state’s “return on investment” in postsecondary education. For lawmakers, these studies also identify effective programs and practices that may warrant additional funding, as well as initiatives that should be discontinued or defunded. In other words, this is a study to watch.