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Department of Commerce Invests $900,000 In Workforce Training Program Led By FHSU

The Kansas Department of Commerce will invest $900,000 in KANSASManufacturingWORKS, a system of public higher education institutions collaborating to provide enhanced workforce training for the state’s manufacturing industry.

Fort Hays State University, acting as the lead institution, will provide project management and coordination. Public community and technical colleges that choose to join the effort will provide technical training, general education and employability skills.

“Our team will make KANSASManufacturingWORKS a high priority,” Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost for quality management at FHSU, announced during the Kansas SKILLS Summit today in Wichita. “We will utilize the experience and knowledge gained through the KANSASEnergyWORKS project to build a model of flexible e-learning products and institutional collaboration to meet industry needs.”

KANSASEnergyWORKS is a project that established a statewide responsive educational system to meet the training needs of energy sector employers.

Led by manufacturing industry experts, training will deliver industry-defined skills and national standardized credentials. FHSU, working with the Kansas Board of Regents and Commerce staff, will convene industry leaders, coordinate curriculum enhancements, and identify national, industry-endorsed credentials. The system will utilize flexible learning formats, especially high-quality, interactive, on-line learning courseware that includes animation, simulation and assessment. The cooperative model will allow all community and technical colleges with existing manufacturing courses to enhance their capacity.

“KANSASManufacturingWORKS provides an opportunity for technical and community colleges to better meet the workforce demands of the manufacturing industry,” Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George said of the new program. “Manufacturing is a critical sector in our state economy, and we are pleased to enhance our colleges’ ability to educate for these important jobs.”

According to the Manufacturing Skills Gap Report of 2011, 67 percent of respondents reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers, and 56 percent anticipated the shortage would grow worse in the next three to five years. The Deloitte report for the Manufacturing Institute also indicates that 5 percent of current jobs at respondent manufacturers are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. KANSASManufacturingWORKS will help the state of Kansas meet the critical and evolving needs of our workforce.

The 2008-2018 Kansas Occupational Outlook from the Kansas Department of Labor projects the fastest growing occupations in Kansas are those that require higher levels of education. As a result, the share of jobs requiring post-secondary, technical training or more is projected to increase in relation to those jobs requiring on-the-job training or work experience in a related occupation.

“KANSASManufacturingWORKS complements Gov. Sam Brownback’s new initiative that encourages students to take technical classes with college credit and industry recognized credentials for demand occupations while in high school,” said Wichita Area Technical College President Tony Kinkel.

As with KANSASEnergyWORKS, the Board of Regents will offer funding assistance for this initiative. All community and technical colleges in Kansas will have the opportunity to apply for funding assistance through a Perkins Reserve competitive grant process. Kansas public higher education institutions, businesses or training providers interested in participating in KANSASManufacturingWORKS should contact Mike Michaelis, director, at 785-628-4620 or via e-mail at mwmichaelis@fhsu.edu.

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