The businesses that set up booths Wednesday at Barton Community College were ready to hire. Anyone who lacked the necessary training could find help as well. The first-ever Barton Education and Employment Expo was sponsored by the college’s Workforce Training and Economic Development office.
“This event is in partnership with employers,” said Elaine Simmons, vice president of instruction and student services. College officials talked to Barton’s industry advisors, who are often area employers, but they left the door open to other employers in the highlighted career fields: agriculture, automotive, commercial driver’s license (CDL), natural gas, scale technician and welding. “It’s education and industry in partnership to help people find jobs and training and education if they need it.”
Booths at the come-and-go event were set up in a major training area at the college, The Case New Holland Shop shop on the northeast corner of the campus.
Employers with booths included Golden Belt Feeders, Gavilon Grain, Hammel Scale Company, the City of Great Bend, Skillets and Sons, KBK Industries, Hess Services Inc., USDA-FSA, Stanion, Fuller Industries LLC, Simpson Farm Enterprises, Hughes Harvesting, Redbarn Pet Products, Great Plains Manufacturing, KanEquip Inc., BZ Bee Inc., Blackhills Corporation, National Guard, City of Larned, Kansas Works, Workfit and BCC Adult Education.
“All of these people have openings," said Dr. Vic Martin, coordinator of Barton’s agriculture department. BCC Adult Education can help people earn a General Education Development (GED) diploma.
Martin repeated that jobs are out there – for the right people.
“There are a lot of companies I work with in agriculture that are desperate for help,” he said.
The college does a lot of events for young people wanting to explore careers, Martin noted. Last month, students in middle school and high school were invited to explore the campus at the Career Technical Education Fair. This new event is different because it’s aimed at adults. In some cases, one semester is all that is needed to earn a certificate and perhaps qualify for a good-paying job, Martin said.
BCC Ag Instructor Maggie Tracy was one of the coordinators of Wednesday’s job and education expo. She said the college can provide a link between people who are looking for jobs, possible training, and community employers. The relationships Barton has with businesses sometimes lead to internships and other opportunities for students.
Tracy was hopeful there would be a good turnout at the Education and Employment Expo. “It lets you talk one-on one and find out what these employers are needing.”
Jack Richardson with Simpson Farm Enterprises was hoping for the same thing. The Simpson Farm Enterprises booth listed a job opening for a service technician and offered “competitive pay.”
“The times are coming back to agriculture,” Richardson said. “We’re definitely in the market for employment.”
The company sells and services farm equipment. Looking at some of the skills taught on the Barton campus, Richardson said, “I believe the training students get out here would apply to our jobs.”