Kansas Colleges Unite to Boost Rural Economy: A Tri-Institutional Initiative for Future-Ready Education and Workforce Development

By Trish Svoboda

In January 2023, a new collaborative initiative was unveiled by Fort Hays State University (FHSU), North Central Kansas Technical College (NCK Tech), and Northwest Kansas Technical College (Northwest Tech). This initiative aims to tackle the demographic and economic issues prevalent in rural areas of Kansas. The three key areas this initiative is focusing on developing solutions for include:

• Developing academic courses and unified student services that fulfill the educational and vocational needs of students today and in the future.

• Streamlining and enhancing operations across institutions to eliminate needless bureaucratic obstacles that hinder student achievement.

• Forming a partnership with local businesses, industries, and communities to enhance student opportunities, foster entrepreneurship, and address the workforce development requirements in rural Kansas.

The alliance operates through implementation groups consisting of faculty and staff from all three institutions, along with industry collaborators. One of the initial teams to launch focused on construction and construction management.

This group has undertaken the task of building connections among educational institutions, ensuring the unification of construction and construction management fields. With a student-centric approach, they have adeptly maneuvered through the intricacies of harmonizing the curriculum across three unique educational institutions.

The Construction Affiliation Implementation Team has set forth several objectives aimed at enabling smooth transitions across locations and programs. The targets include achieving 100% academic success and job placement for students, meeting area workforce demands, and playing a role in easing housing shortages.

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