Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) marked its fourth consecutive year producing over 500,000 workforce-ready professionals. The sector graduated 529,371 students in 2019 skilled for a wide range of in-demand careers including: nursing, transportation, and business administration. The announcement was made at CECU’s annual CEO Summit in Denver.

“In 2016, our sector began a 10-year commitment to provide the nation with over five million new trained professionals,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of CECU. “We remain on track to meet this commitment despite the number of schools in the sector declining. The good news is that the number of graduates per school continue to increase, resulting in higher numbers of skilled workers to contribute to the American economy.”

This year, for the first time, the sector looked at those jobs now defined as “essential” in the fight against the pandemic. The career education sector produced 159,637 workers qualified for these essential roles.

Reflective of the career education sector’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, graduate outcomes for minority students far exceed those of other higher education institutions. For example, one-fourth (124,049) of graduates in 2019 were Hispanic, while a fifth (111,167) of graduates were African American. 67% of all career education graduates in 2019 were women.

The largest numbers of new career professionals include graduates in the medical and business fields; 43,487 Medical Assistants; 42,004 Business Administration professionals; 41,796 Registered Nurses; and 40,006 cosmetology professionals.

The career education sector continues to produce the majority of professionals in industries that sustain the health of our economy and our families: 80% of all physical therapists; 74% of all practical Nurses; 73% of all Medical Assistants; 71% of all Culinary Professionals; 61% of all Dental Assistants; and 55% of all HVAC Professionals. The sector also contributes more than one-third of all Transportation Professionals; 27% of all automotive technicians; and 23% of all technology professionals.

“The challenge for the sector and America’s policy makers is the declining numbers of schools – and thus enrolled students – in these important high-demand careers,” said Gunderson. “When we began this campaign in 2016 the sector had 3,197 schools producing 630,000 graduates. We are down over 800 schools in the sector.  And as a result we are producing 100,000 fewer graduates than just 3 years ago. This can’t continue.”