Central Kansas reaps benefits of Barton career and technical education programs | Barton Community College

Central Kansas reaps benefits of Barton career and technical education programs

February 14, 2018
Story and photos by Brandon Steinert

CTE Month 2018: This feature is the last of four stories to be released by Barton Community College in February in celebration of Career Technical Education (CTE) Month.

CTE Month® is an annual celebration held in February of CTE community members’ achievements and accomplishments nationwide. CTE Month 2018, with its tagline of "Celebrate Today, Own Tomorrow!" gives colleges the chance to inform others of the innovation and excellence that exists within our local CTE programs and raise awareness of the crucial role that CTE plays in readying our students for careers and our nation for economic success.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are a force of prosperity in local economies, and are now a respected mainstream alternative to the four-year-degree paths emphasized in recent decades.

According to an economic impact study on the 2015-16 academic year, every dollar of local taxpayer funding toward Barton Community College stimulates $2.54 in spending in Barton County through Barton’s operations, student spending and alumni who have entered the workforce after graduation. That amounts to an impact on the local economy to the tune of $12.9 million.

Barton’s diverse career and technical offerings range from computer networking and business, to beef cattle production and welding. Each program is designed to fill a need in the local workforce and undoubtedly contributes greatly to the overall economic impact the college brings to its service area.

Barton County resident Patrick Cowan, IT Support Specialist for accounting firm Adams, Brown, Beran & Ball Chtd (ABBB), said he feels this effect on a personal level and sees it throughout the community.

Cowan earned Barton’s Associate in Applied Science in Computer Networking in 2012. He has been working in the industry ever since.

“The fact that it is local is a huge benefit,” he said. “Barton provided a wide range of classes I was interested in at a very affordable price. I enjoy this career; every day is a little different with new challenges. It provides that sense of intrigue and keeps it fresh and new.”

Cowan represents a life impacted; he experienced the tangible benefit of CTE offerings most people likely think about: a rewarding career that pays a living wage. But, there is another side of the coin. A skilled workforce is a key component of a healthy economy.

Employers in the area can fill openings with local highly skilled professionals without spending the time and money to recruit from outside their areas of service, saving overhead and improving the bottom line.

The need for these skilled workers is projected to grow.

According to data on a national scale published in a January 2018 brochure produced by the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE), half of all Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs call for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree. Healthcare occupations are projected to grow 18 percent by 2026, adding more than two million new jobs. Infrastructure for the nation will require three million workers, who will be designing, building and operating transportation, housing, utilities and telecommunications.

Barton student Devon Nelson is enrolled in Barton’s Business Management and Leadership program with plans to graduate in May. He has taken an entrepreneurial approach to a niche market that emerged from the ever-changing nature of our modern society and started a business repairing mobile phone screens.

“Barton gave me the confidence to start my business,” he said. “I definitely think it has helped me connect with the community at a more personal level, and the money my business takes on gets put back into the economy in Great Bend.”

After graduating, Nelson plans to work as an apprentice to his grandfather, who owns and operates Aaron’s Repair and Supply, an oilfield repair company.

“I came to Barton to get a business degree so I am knowledgeable enough to effectively carry on my grandfather’s legacy,” he said, crediting his accounting class as one of the key elements he expects will contribute to his success as a business owner.

Cowan and Nelson are not the only local CTE success stories.

Barton tracked 729 CTE students who finished their programs in the 2015-16 academic year. Two thirds of those graduates either went on to pursue additional education or were employed in a field related to their major. The programs of highest interest were Certified Nurse Aide, Welding, Manufacturing Skills, Paramedic and Registered Nurse.

Barton Career Fair

CTE month will culminate with a Career Technical Education Fair open to the public from noon-2:30 p.m. February 28 in the Case New Holland Shop in the Northeast side of the Technical building. Registration opens at noon. The fair will feature demonstrations, hands-on-activities, refreshments, prizes and photo ops with the Barton mascot.  To sign up, contact Denise Schreiber at (620) 792-9324 or schreiberd@bartonccc.edu.

Students in eighth grade through seniors in high school are invited to attend a keynote address and tours beginning at 9:30 a.m. in the auditorium lobby in the Fine Arts Building on campus.

Barton business student Devon Nelson poses with the equipment he uses to repair broken mobile devices.
Barton business student Devon Nelson poses with the equipment he uses to repair broken mobile devices.