Finding people who want jobs is easy. Finding people who are ready to work and have a basic knowledge of the business they come to is not. That’s what business and industry leaders told the Barton Community College trustees this week.
Members of some of Barton’s Career/Technical Education advisory boards were invited to the November board meeting. These groups advise the college on what knowledge and skills are needed for students coming out of BCC programs.
Those attending were: Warden Doug Waddington from Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility and Warden Dan Schnurr from Ellsworth Correctional Facility, both on the Corrections Advisory Board; Brenda Kaiser from CPI Qualified Plan Consultants, Business Advisory Board; Mary Berglund, MLT Advisory Board; Pam Spaulding, Pharmacy Tech Advisory Board; and Agriculture Advisory Board members Andrew Murphy from Innovative Livestock Services and Marvin Rose from the Great Bend Co-op.
“I’ve been so impressed with the (Pharmacy Tech) program,” said Spaulding, a pharmacist, adding advisory board members have discussed the program “at great length.”
“The shortage of personnel within this region is probably our key point,” Berglund said.
Rose and Murphy agreed that finding good employees is a challenge in the agriculture industry. The BCC instructors even talk to students about “soft skills,” such as coming to work on time and dressed appropriately.
“Our industry has evolved,” Murphy said. “We’re talking about things today we wouldn’t even have known would have existed 10 years ago.” The college’s role, he said, is “developing and training people that can do the job and understand what a job is.”
Trustee Mike Johnson noted that CPI was one of Barton’s earliest business partners. In addition to offering courses tailored specifically to the business, Barton can help employees develop verbal and written communication skills, as well as computer skills, Kaiser said.
Barton’s relationship with the corrections industry works two ways, Waddington noted. The college trains employees in the corrections field, but it also offers classes to inmates. New employees receive 16 hours of basic training from BCC, while inmates can earn a General Educational Development diploma or in some cases take courses for a career after incarceration.
“A lot of these guys have not been successful with traditional education,” Waddington said. Barton instructors have adapted to teaching a special population, in this case mentally ill criminal offenders. “The college is able to move and adapt quickly as needs change.”
Warden Schnurr from Ellsworth agreed. “I just appreciate how Barton is reaching out,” he said. “It does have an effect on people you may not even know.