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Agriculture offers plentiful labor opportunities
Dr. Victor Martin

The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, April 30 shows moderate drought in the central part of Kansas increasing and now encompasses all of Barton, Stafford, and half of Pawnee County. Southeast Kansas is faring the best currently. The six to ten-day outlook (May 7 to 11) indicates a 40 to 60% chance of likely above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (May 9 to 15) indicates near normal for temperatures and a 33 to 40% leaning above normal for precipitation. Not the precipitation forecast we need.

Today, graduation season is upon us. There is a low unemployment rate in the area, however, there are still many who are looking for better employment opportunities in terms of stability, pay, and benefits. Really all year, but especially this time of year, Barton Community College’s Agriculture, CDL, and Scales programs receive numerous calls from employers in and outside of Kansas looking for part- and full-time employees. There is a chronic labor shortage in these areas and it’s becoming more, not less acute. They look to Barton as they prefer individuals with a background and/or licenses in these areas. It may be simply a license, think CDL, a certificate, or a two-year degree. Most of these positions don’t require a four-year degree. There simply aren’t enough “farm” people to fill these jobs. They need hardworking individuals with the necessary essential skills and a desire to learn. The problem is that although many are familiar with commercial drivers, they don’t consider agriculture and the scale industry as options and the numerous career opportunities out there.

While we live in an agricultural area, most high school students have a limited understanding of the industry and the opportunities that exist in our area and across the country. They don’t understand how much technology is involved and the possible careers ranging from the livestock industry and crop production and protection to the business side from banking to marketing, and general accounting. Most have no idea there is a scale industry working on over 20,000 commercial scales and at least that many noncommercial scales in Kansas alone.  For recent graduates wanting a good career, and not just a job, as little as one semester of college prepares them for these industries. Some will require/prefer a two-year degree. Many will hire you in agriculture, work around your class schedule, and even reimburse you after successfully completing classes. Successful scale students typically have a position lined up before the end of the semester.  

One last point to consider is the opportunities existing for older individuals. These industries need men and women along with recent graduates or those who are older. Those who have been in the workforce a while with good work history are also sought after. The scales industry in particular, values veterans.

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