Structured Programs

The whole premise of Guided Pathways is starting with the end in mind. For most students, that end results in a career. Whether students come to our colleges for a short-term workforce training programs or an associate degree, every student should have a clearly designed program that gives them the practical skills needed for their next opportunity. While Guided Pathways has several components, it’s fair to say that structured programs are a vital part of ensuring students are on track to meet their goals.


Making the Connection between programs and opportunities 


Female avatarThe question I always pose to students is “Why do you go to college?” Most students answer because I need a job. Here at the Virginia Community College System, we don’t want students to get a job. We want students to start a career that will economically support them and their families. Even better if we can move students into careers through affordable, structured programs at one of our outstanding 23 community colleges.

Structured programs is one piece of the Guided Pathways movement. As the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academics and Employer Partnerships, I assist in the development of programs, that when completed, will help a student land a career with family supporting wages. Even though each college develops its own programs, my job is talk to employers, large and small, around the state to see if the colleges are meeting their needs or if curriculum needs to be adjusted with new skills.

Because of the growth of new job sectors such as cyber security, unmanned systems (drones), solar power, software developers (app developers), and health care, my staff convene faculty from across the state with business and industry experts to discuss new courses, competencies, programs and standards. These partnerships are extremely important to building a new economy to bring jobs to rural areas and retain high paying jobs in urban areas. 

Every day my job is different. I enjoy the challenge of building a world class workforce to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs.

As we work together to create pathways for our students, I encourage you to think about how the work you are doing today, helps our students make the transition from college to career.


Megan Healy

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academics and Employer Partnerships


Structured Programs Defined 


Structured Programs are streamlined programs of study that are developed with simple choices, limited electives, and relevant coursework to create a clear roadmap to a career or transfer institution. Within Structured Programs, colleges can create opportunities for sequences of courses, credentials, or certifications that build upon each other to lead to more education or career mobility. These Stackable Credentials build pathways with off-ramps for students who need to enter the workforce and easy on-ramps for when they want to return to obtain a higher-level credential. Technical, critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills and theoretical knowledge increase as the student obtains higher education levels. In a stackable credentials program, students who stop out do not have to repeat coursework or start all over in order to reach the next milestone.


The Value of Labor Market Information 


Whether you are teaching a course, developing a program, building an employer partnership, or advising students on career opportunities, it’s essential to have an understanding of the people and industry in your region. This tool available through the Virginia Employment Commission, provides access to a community profile for all 23 community colleges. As you think about the services and programs your college offers, do they align with your community? Are we preparing students for viable career fields within our region? Do we know who is seeking training, how far they are willing to commute and average wages for those employed? These are just a few questions we should consider, as we delve deeper into helping our students, start with the end in mind.

Click the button below or scroll to the bottom of the page to select your community college service region.

Community College Service Region Profile


Employer Engagement 

Mutually beneficial relationships with employers in our communities is vital in ensuring we have the most accurate understanding of workforce needs and the most current information on employment opportunities, internship opportunities, and opportunities for investment in our programs and services.


A Resource Guide to Employer Engagement, Jobs for the Future


New Continuum of Employer Engagement, Jobs for the Future


Employer Summit Draft, St. Petersburg College


How to Write an Internship Program Sample Workshop, St. Petersburg College 


Employer Advisory Council Resource Guide, Zane State College