Since 2007, all U.S. states have battled some degree of economic recession, and Kansas is no exception. In his 2010 State of Labor Address, Kansas Labor Secretary Jim Garner noted that while the state was finally enjoying private sector job growth and a reduction in layoffs, it was imperative that the Kansas Department of Labor "continue to pursue efforts that put Kansas in the best position to make the most of the recovery." These efforts are reshaping the state's job climate, workforce and education demands in important ways.
Kansas' Dramatically Evolving Job Market
A time-traveler from the past looking at the state's modern economy might be tempted to say, like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," "We're not in Kansas anymore!" While Kansas continues to be an agricultural powerhouse, its economy has diversified tremendously in recent years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state's largest non-agricultural industries in February 2010 included government services, manufacturing, and education and health services. Some of the state's largest metropolitan areas, including Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City, have become magnets for technical careers while, according to the Kansas Department of Labor, the state's green job initiative is expected to support more than 30,000 new jobs by 2012.
U.S. Department of Labor data shows that Kansans earned a mean annual wage of $38,530 in 2009, less than the national average. Fortunately, the cost of living is comparably low. According to the Council for Community and Economic Research's 2009 Cost of Living Index, all Kansas metropolitan areas evaluated reported living costs well below the national average. For those Kansans who would like to earn more, however, higher education is key.
Online Colleges in Kansas Help Meet Demand for Educated Workers
While all states benefit from an educated workforce, it is particularly important in Kansas, where jobs requiring college degrees are expected to outpace educated workers within the next few years. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40.5 percent of Kansans between 25 and 64 years of age held college degrees in 2008, while a study published by Georgetown University's Center on Education and Workforce indicates that 64 percent of Kansas jobs are expected to require them by 2018.
Kansas online schools can help residents meet this new demand by making education more accessible. While the state is home to a number of respectable campus-based colleges, most are in larger population centers, leaving rural residents with few options. What's more, recent economic woes have forced some Kansas schools to increase local tuition: The Wichita Eagle newspaper reports that the Kansas Board of Regents voted to approve tuition hikes across the state in 2010. Kansas online schools, with their reduced overhead, provide future students with an alternative to struggling campus-based schools.
Online Schools let Students Set the Pace
According to reports by The Sloan Consortium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying and improving online education, online degrees are becoming increasingly popular and accepted among students and employers alike. Kansas online degrees are no exception. Unlike campus-based schools, online programs typically allow students to attend class whenever and wherever it is convenient. Note, however, that some programs may require some degree of classroom or lab work, particularly those in hands-on industries like nursing or engineering. Kansas online degrees are also available at virtually all levels, from diplomas and certificates to bachelor's and graduate degrees.