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Services for job seekers getting overlooked
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 Sadly, the message about opportunities offered by the local Workforce Area I isn’t reaching everyone who needs to hear it, Barton County Commissioner Don Davis said Monday morning. 

The County Commission approved an update of the Workforce Investment Board Chief Elected Officials Agreement. Davis is a member of the board and said he wished more people knew what was available. “There is not enough public information out there for people who need the jobs.”

In the meantime, The Local Workforce Area I Local Chief Official Board and Workforce Development Board are now in the process of transitioning the Western Kansas Workforce System. As part of the transition process, Barton County was asked to renew the Local Chief Officials Agreement. 

The agreement defines the roles of the chief elected officials, the selection process for members of the Chief Elected Officials Board as well as the liability each county has in case the board mishandles funds, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. 

The board is made up of representatives from the 62 counties in Workforce Area I, including Barton County Commissioner Don Davis. He is one of 28 members of the board.

Davis lamented the fact that there is so little participation from the massive area. But, he said Barton County is well represented with four other residents on the board, a Workforce Area I office in Great Bend and the conducting of many of the meetings at Barton Community College.

Also, Davis said, it’s sad more folks don’t take advantage of the services the entity provides, especially in light of ongoing unemployment. There are programs to help people find jobs or change jobs, and there are programs to help youth seeking to get into the workforce.

According to the Kansas Works annual report from the last year, Workforce Area I served 846 adults, dislocated workers and youth customers. It is one of five workforce areas in Kansas, but is by far the largest in terms of territory.

In July of 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which replaced the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. This new law represented a renewed commitment to workforce development through innovation, support for individual seeking employment and economic growth, Boeckman said.