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Agriculture and industry – help wanted
Dr. Victor Martin

Well, at least according to the calendar, spring has arrived. As this is being written, the forecast is predicting four to eight inches of dry fluffy snow, some wind, and the coldest temperatures of the season. While snow in March is hardly unusual, the temperatures are.  Unfortunately, weather forecasters are predicting below to well-below normal temperatures (as in twenty plus degrees colder than normal) and above normal precipitation. Many farmers and ranchers are hoping they are wrong. Now onto today’s topic.

There is a low unemployment rate in our area, across Kansas, and the nation. However, digging deeper into the statistics, dealing with industry advisory boards here at Barton Community College, certain concerns become apparent. And if you are reading this in the Great Bend Area and paid attention to the “Better Than Great” visioning process, these trends and needs are involved in the ten points the group developed for a better future.

For employers concerns include the following:

• Lack of individuals applying for skilled jobs across a variety of fields.

• Lack of individuals qualified to be trained applying for skilled positions.

• Lack of individuals with good “soft” skills or as Barton Community College terms them, “Essential Skills.”  

• Lack of individuals credentialed or able to obtain credentials necessary for employment such as a CDL, Commercial Applicators License.

• Developing a stable workforce and decreasing turnover rates.

• Having the necessary training for employees to upgrade their skills.

For employees and unemployed:

• Obviously needing a job if you are unemployed.  Some have had long-term jobs, possess good work records, and find themselves looking for employment.

• Many are underemployed based on their abilities and lack the ability to pay for further education. Many are working in low-paying jobs which are often unstable.

• Many are unaware of the possible career paths available in various areas and that career training for them can be completed in as little as one semester.

• Many are unaware that assistance is available for many if you fit into the above categories.  

• Many simply don’t understand for example that many good career paths are available in agriculture and you don’t need an agricultural background to be hired and excel.

Barton Community College, specifically Workforce Training and Economic Development, is offering an opportunity for employers and employers to help address these concerns. The date is Wednesday, March 20 from 1 until 7 p.m. in the Case New Holland Shop. Employers in the areas of Agriculture, CDL, Scales, Welding, Natural Gas, and Automotive are invited to come, at no charge, and set up a booth. For more information or to reserve a booth, contact Maggie Tracy at 620-792-9120. As of today, there are twenty booths. For those interested in careers, career educational opportunities, or just curious, please show up on March 20 from 1 until 7 p.m. This isn’t a case of showing up with a resume, you can certainly bring one, but of providing individuals with an opportunity to see what positions are available as well as what educational opportunities exist. The target audience is what are referred to as nontraditional students, although anyone is welcome to attend. 

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.