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Kansas must match jobs to those wanting them
There are plenty of openings, but filling them is another story
new deh county commission workforce pic
Linda L. Bonewell, human resources manager for Fuller Industries, gives a report on the recent 2015 Workforce Summit held in Topeka to the Barton County Commission Monday morning. She and Commissioner Don Davis, seen seated at the left, both attended the summit.

In other business Monday morning, the commission:
 • Was presented with the inventory of county-owned property. Per state law, each county officer and department head must make an inventory of the county property. The inventory, which shall be taken during December, shall be filed with the County Clerk on or before Dec. 31 of each year.
The inventory doesn’t include books, records, files, stationery, writing materials and blank legal papers. The information will be presented to the Commission during February of each year. Charged with reporting the information is the Information Technology Department.
• Approved amending a motion regarding transferring funds to pay for a bridge project. On July 21, 2014, the Commission received information relative to the 10th Street bridge approach rehabilitation construction project. At that time, the commission approved a motion, in order to offset the cost of the bridge, that “total of reimbursements ($266,598) to be transferred back to the Capital Improvement Fund by Resolution later in the year.” As of the close of 2014 business, there are not sufficient funds in Special Bridge to make that transfer due to another $133,000 project that was undertaken in the interim, said Financial Officer Jessica Wilson.
The county should ultimately be reimbursed by the state for the expenses through the Federal Fund Transfer Program, under which the state banks federal transportation dollars for local projects.
• Approved a resolution transferring and carrying over 2014 unexpended funds to the capital improvement and equipment replacement funds. It is the County’s practice to transfer unexpended funds from one year to the next. After accounting of all the 2014 transactions, monies are generally transferred to the Capital Improvement and Equipment Replacement funds, Wilson said.
Capital Improvement Fund transfers totaled $290,905. That included $116,905 to the General Fund, $162,000 to the Special Bridge Fund and $12,000 to the Cemetery Fund.
Equipment Replacement Fund transfers include $158,357 to the General Fund, $315,000 to the Road and Bridge Department Fund and $38,000 to the Noxious Weed Department Fund.
In light of the economy and potential hits to oil and gas revenues, the transfers will put the county in a better position for the 2015 and 2016 budget years, Wilson said.

Ostensibly, the employment picture in the nation as a whole and in Kansas is a rosy one, said Linda L. Bonewell, human resources manager for Fuller Industries. But, the numbers only show part of the picture.
“Our nation has more open jobs today than at any point since 2008,” she said. And, “over the course of 2014, there were 73,298 middle-skill job postings in Kansas.”
However, there may be a lot of openings, but find people to take them is a challenge. “Some jobs took a long time to fill,” she said, adding transportation and maintenance jobs took an average of 50 days.
Bonewell and Barton County Commissioner Don Davis attended the 2015 Workforce Summit held Jan. 21-22 in Topeka as members of the Local Workforce Investment Board. During the commission meeting Monday morning, the two gave reports  on the conference.
“We do not have clear occupational pathways and therefore we have a skills gap,” Bonewell said. Not everyone needs bachelor’s degrees which are sometimes required by a job description but not needed for the job.
This is going to become an increasingly important issue, she said. By 2020, 71 percent of all Kansas jobs will require some level of post-secondary eduction.
However, “if the current rate of degree production remains constant, state revenue in 2025 will be $22 million less that it is now,” Bonewell said. “Conversely, if the degree gap is closed, over $400 million in additional revenue will be generated.”
Academic preparation is key and the cost of that education matters, she said. “It shouldn’t be a luxury.”
Also, she said, the types of education offered need to match the jobs that are available. “We need to close this degree gap.”
There are also challenges from federal regulations, such as the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which mandates standardized employment reporting and more stringent policies covering employment of those with disabilities. But, she said, “this community is prepared for this.”
Davis said there needs to be more on-the-job training opportunities for students where they can learn the work ethic needed to be successful. “Education is the real key for any kid.”
Sadly, he said, these lessons need to be taught at home and this doesn’t always happen.
In addition, Davis said there needs to be better communication between employers and employees.
KANSASWORKS is the brand name for the statewide, public workforce system established through the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Under this, the state is divided into five Workforce Areas.
Barton County falls in the 62-county Workforce Area I, which covers the western two thirds of Kansas. Despite the size, Davis said this area is in better shape than the others.
Another requirement of the KANSASWORKS program is the establishment of the Local Workforce Investment Boards, like the one in Barton County. The membership of the LWIB consists of representatives from business, education, rehabilitation services, public assistance agencies and public employment services.
Members of the LWIB represent organizations, agencies, or other entities and in compliance with the WIA, at least 51 percent of its members are from private businesses. The board’s main role is to direct federal, state and local funding to workforce development programs.