LGT '11: It's the Economy

by Melissa Brunner

It's almost time for our next Leadership Greater Topeka session, and I realized I have yet to update you on our last gathering! Washburn Institute of Technology was our home base for the day and economic development was our focus.

Consider this little tidbit - 70 percent of today's kindergartners will work in jobs that haven't yet been created. Not only that, but half of what students learn in their first year of college or tech school will be obsolete by the time they graduate. It's not because they're hanging out in school forever - the world is just moving that quickly! Communities looking to attract new businesses must be aware of this dynamics and be able to respond - quickly! The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce says the company site selection process that used to take 18 months is now completed in three months. That is why they are pushing to have land and infrastructure, like the Kanza Fire Commerce Park, ready to go - companies they'd like to attract won't wait six months to see if maybe we can get a package together, they want it to already exist. How competitive is the environment? More than a thousand leads might lead to 30-50 serious pursuits, and they might successfully land only one of those.

Which is where Washburn Tech comes in. Companies want to know tha, if they come here, they'll be able to find a skilled workforce. The programs at Wahburn Tech are at capacity and looking to grow. The machinists, industrial techs, welders and other skilled trades are in demand. Sure, machines can be automated to do a lot for us these days, but someone needs to tell those machines what to do and know how to keep them running. It's amazing to see all the students are doing and hearing the skills and knowledge they must possess to complete the programs.

If you're interested in learning more, Washburn Tech has a couple events coming up. A job fair will be held from 2pm to 6pm April 14 and an open house will take place from noon to 4pm April 16. The school is at 5724 SW Huntoon, which is just east of Wanamaker.



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