Through Partnership, Kansas Workers Align With Industry Demand
In 2014 the Kansas Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Kansas Board of Regents implemented an innovative initiative to address the state’s skills gap through development of the talent pipeline by aligning workforce training and education with industry opportunities and demands. Workforce AID (Aligned with Industry Demand) is a workforce training solution that supports the Governor’s economic strategic plan for Kansas with a focus on providing skilled talent for employers and growing jobs. Using short-term (8–10 weeks), highly focused training programs resulting in college credit and industry-recognized credentials, Workforce AID finds, trains, and delivers Kansas employers a skilled, certified workforce—right training, right job, NOW!
Through participation in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Talent Pipeline Management learning network meetings as team leads, Kansas leveraged the Talent Pipeline Management approach by using each of the strategies to improve and scale this initiative and form a more effective industry-led talent supply chain approach.
The Workforce AID program is unique in its industry-focused approach, working with individual employers and industry cohorts to define needs and propose training solutions. The team then collaborates with a host of Kansas entities to develop and deliver the final training needs. Typical stakeholders include but are not limited to: community colleges, technical colleges, universities, Kansas Workforce Centers, and local economic development agencies. This collaborative coordinates and leverages connections among employers, colleges, and talent providers for a more effective result.
As an example, a Kansas City trucking industry cohort comprised of trucking industry partners Trans Am Trucking Inc., Peterbilt, Ryder System, Inc., and Butler Transport defined a need for preventative maintenance inspection technicians for the diesel trucking industry. Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) was selected to provide the training through a competitive bid process. The industry partners outlined the specific skills needed for success in their companies and in partnership with KCKCC, developed a short-term curriculum to meet the outlined needs. KCKCC hired a field expert who was a current assistant service manager at Kansas City Freightliner to conduct the training which included nine college credit hours and two industry-recognized credentials (OSHA 10 and ASE T8) with a college career path to diesel technician.
TransAm Trucking, Inc. proudly employs two individuals sourced from the eight-week preventative maintenance training program. After their sponsored training at KCKCC, José Guillen and Damon Dye joined the TransAm team and continue employment as preventative maintenance inspection technicians.
When asked how the program has changed his life, José responded:
“Prior to enrolling in the preventive maintenance course, I had worked as an industrial painter at LSI Midwest Lighting for almost 10 years. The company closed and left me unemployed. I heard about the preventative maintenance class at KCKCC and thought it would be a great opportunity for me and I took it. I now have a job with great opportunities and salary. Being a diesel technician is great because the trucking industry is one of the most important industries in the world and is always creating more jobs.”
Echoing José’s positive experience with the program, Damon Dye said:
“After working at my prior employer for three years in the diesel mechanic field, the company shut down. While I awaited final notice I began to plan my next move in furthering my education and knowledge in diesel mechanics. Kansas Works was my primary source in doing so; they helped me revise my resume, get trained, and advance a certificate in WorkKeys assessment. They definitely helped motivate me, lift my spirit, and give my faith in good things to come after my layoff. The entire Kansas Workforce staff were relentless in their efforts and assistance throughout the entire process, making me feel like they wanted to see me prosper. They referred and got me enrolled into a vigorous training that not only began to teach the basics of diesel mechanics but also prepared my finances for the future by now having the benefits of a 401k ... I am forever grateful for all those who invested their time and efforts into helping me further my career.”
Frank Nicholson, vice president of maintenance at TransAm Trucking, Inc., remarked on the partnership with Workforce AID:
“I have been a lifelong resident in the state of Kansas and 37 of those years has been in the trucking industry. During this time frame I have seen many programs come and go. I went through an AVTS (area vocational training school) early on in my career to better my skills as a diesel technician only to see that course get dropped several years later. Now seeing things from a manager’s point of view, a partnership such as this with Workforce AID is not only sorely needed but makes complete sense. The thing that Workforce Aid provides that other programs don’t is the type of person going through the program. What we see are individuals that not only want to further their education, but individuals that are willing to go the extra mile to do so. These potential candidates not only work their regular job but take the initiative to go to school after their work day is over and learn a new trade. We are very pleased with the employees that we have received through this program to date and are hoping for more. These people are excited to be in this industry and excited to come to work! It has given them a new opportunity to change their families’ lives for the better!”