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United States : RDA in talks for new Program enhancement funds with FHTC.

A talk between Flint Hills Technical College and the Flint Hills Regional Development Association regarding new program improvement finances depicted the monthly RDA conference.

Talks comprised matching future requirements of industry in the Emporia region with programs at the Tech College.

Flint Hills Technical College President Dean Hollenbeck said, Our state support is dwindling.

It's keeps getting smaller. It's very expensive to run technical education programs. It's very expensive to develop a new program to meet industry needs. It's very expensive to keep the programs we have in place current with the new cutting edge technology, which we have to have to have to be able to place our students for them to enter into the workforce.

RDA President Kent Heermann said, Part of the mission of the Tech College is that when they develop a program, at the end of the day when the students graduate they have to be placed.

If they don't have a high placement ratio they say 'you know they might think about eliminating that program.'

In order to assist program upgrade and job skills in the Emporia zone, there was a talk of utilizing finances from the Industrial sales tax fund.

Heermann said, There was some thought with the RDA and the industrial sales tax fund that maybe there is some way to utilize some of those funds to increase the skill level of the employment base here.

For instance, VekTek, the majority of the graduates at VekTek are Flint Hills Technical College graduates. Most of the graduates from the Tech College by a large majority stay in the area.

Probably 75 to 85 percent of our students are in the Emporia community and this region, which is getting bigger, Hollenbeck said. Our manufacturers here employ a lot of our students. We keep the workforce up to speed providing the quality people for their employees. The majority of them stay right here.

Recently the Tech College broadened its welding program and is needing to include a robotics element to the program. Different program being spoken about is for wind turbine up keep.

Hollenbeck said, Anytime that we try to create a program we have to go through the (Kansas) Board of Regents.

So it's a process that can take as long as a year to be able to create a new program. We have to look at what the job availability, the placement, and how many opportunities there are for students. You just don't create a program and put several hundred thousand dollars and be able to place only a handful of students.

Hollenbeck said, That's why this conversation kind of came up in the RDA.

When companies come into town, one of the first things they are looking for is how do we train our employees? How do we get them up to speed so that's how the Technical College fill that role.

Heermann said, There's a lot of variables they look at, You have to have an available workforce for the skills you need. We've been fortunate. That is what you call a comparative advantage for Emporia, Kansas and this area, because we not only have the University here but we have the Tech College here. There's very few communities in the state of Kansas that have that.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Nov 16, 2015
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