The population of Kansas has grown a little over the past few years, but the number of our jobs have grown a lot. Scott Smathers, Vice President of Workforce Development for the Kansas Board of Regents, indicated that Kansas businesses are scrambling to fill the jobs that are available, which is not a surprise to many local business owners. In contrast to Kansas business conditions, the labor force is shrinking across the United States. The role of the Kansas Board of Regents and higher education is to try to make sure that graduating students are ready for the work force that our marketplace demands. Most jobs in our market require some kind of post-secondary education, whether that education represents a shorter-term technical education or a four-year college education.
 
The strategic plan of the Board of Regents includes several key points: 
  • One is an affordable education. Additional funding will be needed from the state in order to maintain current tuition levels.
  • Business workforce. Our current jobs require talent and innovation in order to get and maintain an edge.
  • ​​​​​​​Economic prosperity. Hubs for economic development are forming that include relationships between communities and higher education.
On thing that Kansas has experienced is a need for ​​​more engineers. Over the last nine years, our universities graduated 600 additional engineers, but only a few have ended up staying in Kansas. In order to keep talent like this in our state, a high quality of life is required. Touting the advantages of Kansas' quality of life is something we need to communicate. Communicating with our local people on the technical education available is another point we need to consider. Providing more ways for our current staff to grow and further their education through mentoring and coaching can be a great retention tool as businesses struggle to fill jobs.