Employers of former Barton Community College students confirmed what college officials already know about workplace preparedness: so-called essential skills — sometimes also referred to as soft skills — are as important as general education and technical skills.
Elaine Simmons, acting dean of Workforce Training & Community Education and vice president of Instruction, gave her annual report on students’ workplace preparedness Tuesday at the BCC Board of Trustees meeting. The college sent surveys to 68 employers of Barton graduates or certificate earners; 26 surveys, or 38 percent, were returned.
Employers rated Barton graduates “excellent” or “good” most of the time in areas of general education, technical education and professionalism. For example, 85 percent of them rated graduates “excellent” or “good” when it comes to operating job-related tools, instruments and equipment. There were similar responses for the quantity/quality of work accomplished and the ability to work independently. One hundred percent gave excellent or good ratings for the employees' success in maintaining confidentiality and being customer focused. Ninety-two percent received those ratings for accepting advice, supervision and constructive criticism and for their overall work ethics.
On the other hand, Simmons said she was concerned that only 65 percent received good or excellent ratings for their leadership/promotion potential.
The areas the college calls “essential skills” include accountability, communications, critical thinking, customer service, professionalism and self-management. The college’s program advisory boards speak to the importance of addressing these skills in response to related challenges in the workplace, Simmons said. The survey category “work ethics” included reliability, punctuality, integrity, judgment, maturity, politeness, dependability and confidentiality.
Board Chairman Mike Johnson agreed that employers are frustrated with the quality of essential skills that job applicants demonstrate in general. “The lack of essential skills doesn’t seem to be getting any better,” he said. “People don’t realize how important it is.”
“I can tell you, it does not stop (after they are hired),” Simmons said. “People get fired because they cannot do these things.”
The board approved faculty contract renewals. Faculty who were granted tenure are Charlotte Cates, Allan Collins, Edward Dean, James Henderson and Shannon Schreiner. Faculty who resigned were Chris Boeger, Cherie Shaver and Shawn Wood. Brenda Glendenning is changing job positions at the college. Retiring are Richard Bealer, Eugene Compton, Dennis King, Martin Lueth and Kay Robinson.
The following new employees were approved:
• John Benjamin Hyatt, instructional specialist at Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility
• Adelina Masingill, customer service representative at Ft. Leavenworth
• Carol Furrey, part-time volunteer coordinator of RSVP of Central Kansas & Volunteers in Action
• Ryan Buss, program support specialist (HZMT/EMHS) at Grandview Plaza
• Jasmine Jones, enrollment specialist at Ft. Riley
Meeting at a glance:
Here’s a brief look at Tuesday’s Barton Community College Board of Trustees meeting:
• Linda Fund, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees, gave a report. Fund is retiring and BCC Board Chairman Mike Johnson said KACCT is close to naming a new executive director.
• A proposal to lease land for a possible solar farm was approved.
• The board heard reports on Emergency Medical Services, Faculty Council, Workforce Preparedness and Strategic Planning.
• Faculty contracts were approved.
• A bid for foam roofing with a 20-year warranty was awarded to Washington Roofing, Great Bend, in the amount of $186,348, for the Science & Math Building and portions of the Technical Building and Physical Education Building. That was the low bid for a 20-year warranty; Washington also offered a product with a 15-year warranty for $168,758.