TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Some Kansas employers are calling the need for a skilled workforce in the state ‘a crisis,’ but they are unable to find qualified people to fill the jobs. A bill passed through the Kansas House of Representatives that has the support of the Kansas Board of Regents along with Kansas community and technical colleges.
The proposed ‘Kansas Promise scholarship program’ would give students earning their associate’s degree or a career and technical education degree a scholarship, if they are getting their degree in a field where skilled workers are needed in the state. The Kansas Board of Regents would oversee the scholarships and designate the top 10 job fields that are currently considered ‘high need’.
Under the current bill, the scholarship would only be available to students looking at a two-year degree at a private college or university or technical program. The scholarship would also take into account the student’s other scholarships. For example, if a student’s tuition is $4,000 and they received a scholarship for $2,000, the Kansas Promise scholarship would give the student the remaining $2,000 needed for tuition, books, and other needs.
The Kansas Board of Regents did focus groups with employers from across the state and say the results were nearly unanimous.
“In every location, we found the vast majority of employers are searching for a skilled workforce and are not finding the numbers of employees needed to make their businesses competitive,” explained Dr. Blake Flanders from the Kansas Board of Regents.
If students were awarded a Kansas Promise scholarship, they would be required to work for 2 years in the state of Kansas after graduation or they would have to repay their scholarship.
It is estimated that this program would cost the state $2.5 million in its first year and $5 million in subsequent years.
The bill is being discussed by the Senate Education comittee.