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BCC administrators study labor shortage
Wage increases expected at Barton

Barton Community College had 66 open job positions at the end of May and had only reduced that number by two toward the end of June, Vice President of Administration Mark Dean told college trustees earlier this week. But with “other entities paying upward of $18 an hour,” the college is struggling to attract people to fill those positions.

Dean presented a workforce summary that outlined some of the steps being taken to recruit and retain qualified employees. According to the report:

• Several positions have been open for more than three years. These include various adjunct (part-time) faculty positions; Workforce Training positions including Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) positions; and temporary positions including mail clerk and lab assistants.

• Other academic positions have been open for one to three years. These include adjunct faculty for military schools, Workforce Training, and correctional facility positions. Also open for one to three years is a faculty management position for a mechanical systems tech.

• Then there’s a longer list of positions that have been open for less than one year. These include various adjunct and full-time faculty, directors, support staff, faculty management, campus safety officer, Workforce Training positions, Human Resource (HR) positions, Bookstore position, business office position, housing positions and student support services positions.

Returning to the issue of wages, the report notes that applicants are drawn to more money and what their paycheck will be at the end of the month.

Part-time positions are also hard to fill now, as are student employee positions.

Looking at wages, BCC uses a service called Compease to determine how the college’s pay rate for various positions compares to those of similar jobs in this region. Last year, the board of trustees approved wage increases that moved Barton up to 95% of market value.

However, Dean said the new Compease wage report would be released on July 1 and he anticipated Barton County would drop back to the high 80s.

Once HR evaluates the new report, Dean said there is a “strong possibility” that Barton will bring its new employee salary level back up to market value.

It takes time to train a new employee, Dean noted. But, in the current job market, it isn’t unusual for someone to fill a position for a few weeks or months, only to move on when they get a better offer elsewhere.


Advertising is another component of gaining qualified applications, Dean said.

“Our positions automatically get listed on a number of websites,” he said. “Since we’ve done that, our applications have picked up.” This is in addition to newspaper advertising and ads on the newspaper website, as well as the Kansas Works listings. Recently, HR added the job-advertising website Indeed.

“Our applications for jobs have soared in the recent months, leading to more interviews and a chance to show applicants what all Barton has to offer,” Dean reported. “Barton Community College has outstanding benefits, and to combat the issue of low wage, our Human Resource department has since added on our outstanding benefits sheets to the advertisements for each job. ... We also recognize the need for work-life balance along with flexibility, so more recently we have opened up opportunities for limited remote work,” he added.


This problem isn’t unique to BCC. A recent survey of the other Kansas community college confirmed there is a statewide struggle to find qualified applicants.

A few of those, including Barton, are looking at incentive packages to promote the recruitment of potential qualified applicants.

“Just as important as finding and hiring qualified employees is retaining the employees that already work for us,” Dean said. “Recent retirements of employees with many years of service have added to our employment challenges. We are also finding that current employees are testing the job market looking for higher wages and increased flexibility.”

Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said the problem requires action from the college. “You can’t sit back and not do anything.”

“I wish I had the magic solution,” Dean said. “I don’t.”

Barton Trustee Gary Burke commented that sooner or later, staff shortages “will affect the quality of our product.”

Dean agreed, adding it also puts an extra load on the employees who are there.

College trustees will be looking at wages in the coming months as they work on the budget. Dean said there will be a recommendation for raises and that board members will receive more than one option, along with cost estimates.

Board Chairman Mike Johnson said Barton employees can expect a wage increase for 2022-2023. “As a board, we need to make sure all of our employees understand we appreciate them,” he said.