Assembling a Career: Labor Market Outcomes for Manufacturing Program Students in Two-Year Technical Colleges

Christopher J. Matheny*, Hsun Yu Chan, Xueli Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Research on labor market outcomes for individuals who enroll in technical colleges is limited, with even less attention to the effects of short-term certificates than associate degrees. Also, despite the importance of manufacturing programs, there is a lack of research on employment outcomes for individuals who enroll in these programs at technical colleges. In this study, we explored how types of credential earned are related to employment outcomes 4 years post-enrollment for students in manufacturing programs at public 2-year technical colleges in Wisconsin. Method: We drew upon administrative and wage data on over 6,000 first-time students matriculating into manufacturing-related programs at Wisconsin’s technical colleges between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2009. Using ordinary least squares (OLS) and logistic regression, we investigated the association between types of credentials earned and labor market outcomes while controlling for the sample’s socio-demographic background and academic experiences. Results: Our analyses revealed that students, particularly males, who completed an associate degree or a 2-year technical diploma were at an advantage in both rates of employment and earnings. White male students also enjoyed a stronger likelihood of being employed and earned higher annual wages than their ethnic minority counterparts. These advantages were not as manifest among female students. Contributions: Our study indicates that, to advance the employment prospects of technical college students, it is critical to expand institutional efforts to support longer term credential attainment. Our findings did not support the popular jobbing-out myth lingering in manufacturing education at the 2-year college level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-406
Number of pages27
JournalCommunity College Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Oct 11
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-year colleges
  • economic returns to post-secondary education
  • employment outcomes of college students
  • technical colleges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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