There are two refrains Kansas community college leaders often hear. The first is businesses saying: “We need more skilled employees. We are cutting back production because we do not have enough staff,” or “I need to expand operations, but I cannot because the workers I need to hire do not exist.”
The second refrain is Kansans talking about the desire to find a job that pays a family sustaining wage with health care and retirement benefits.
The good news is Kansas community colleges are working hard every day to solve both issues. The 19 Kansas community colleges serve over 100,000 Kansans and provide over 80% of the technical education in the state.
The number of undergraduate students served is greater than all of the public four-year universities combined. Kansas community colleges provide skilled workforce training in dynamic careers that offer family sustaining wages and excellent benefits, which students achieve with two years or less of education and no student debt.
Careers include health care, information technology, construction trades, advanced manufacturing, electrical power technology, solar and wind technology, precision agriculture, and so many more. Students have choices that range from short-term certificates to completing a two-year degree and transferring on to pursue further higher education.
Kansas community colleges offer flexible scheduling options that give all Kansans an opportunity to upskill while also working a full-time job.
Kansas community colleges pride themselves on being affordable and accessible. Many people hear and believe college is too expensive, but when it comes to Kansas community colleges, there is no better value or return on investment.
Most of our students graduate debt free and often obtain higher-than-average paying jobs because of the skills and training provided by the community college.
Thanks to recent investments by the Kansas Legislature, Kansas community college students can advance their education at no cost to them. The Kansas Promise Scholarship is available to students of all ages willing to enroll in a high-demand career program and willing to commit to living and working in Kansas for two years post completion of their education.
Parents, did you know that your high school student can start community college classes while the student is still in high school, many times at no cost to them? Ask your local community college about your high school students’ options.
Many Kansas high school students are getting their high school diploma at the same time they are graduating with an associates degree or certificate from a Kansas community college.
Take advantage of these opportunities. This is the best option to ensure you have no student debt, can work and learn at the same time, and there is no worry that the time and effort you dedicate to your education will leave you with a degree but no job. Kansas has plenty of great-paying jobs for you.
Help us spread the word about the benefits of a community college education, the new Kansas Promise Scholarship, and encourage Kansans to take advantage of these great opportunities to improve their lives. Join us in taking pride in the opportunities provided by the 19 Kansas community colleges across the state.
The economic impact of these institutions is immeasurable and directly contribute the success of the Kansas economy.
Arlen Leiker is the vice president of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees and trustee of Colby Community College.