Along with a jobs report from WSU that forecasts job growth for Wichita, the need for skilled workers is expected to climb.
WSU Tech says it continues to ramp up to meet the demand. WSU has increased the frequency of its sheet metal training courses. And the number of total students going through WSU Tech climbing to nearly 7,000 a year, they are not slowing down.
“We have actually changed our program quite dramatically,” says Jim Hall, Dean of Aviation Technologies at WSU Tech. “At one point, this program would take 16 weeks. We shortened it to eight weeks. We shortened it to six weeks due to employer demand.”
While big companies like Spirit continue to hire and plan to hire at a fast pace, other businesses are hiring.
Students like Jacob Fiedler are happy to get new job skills.
“I was doing jobs that were not what I would consider a career, no,” says Fiedler, who is now training at WSU Tech to do engineering drafting.
Fiedler says he was doing jobs like fast food and other lower-paying jobs. But he decided to get training and WSU Tech offered what he needed to go after something new.
“Pretty much from minimum wage to quite a bit more than that,” says Fiedler. “I definitely think of it as kind of a career. I didn’t chose it just for money, I chose something I would be interested in, and I thought I would have a lot of fun with.”
WSU Tech leaders say a 2019 jobs forecast that says at least 2,700 new jobs could be on the way to Wichita is not a surprise. And they say it follows a trend.
WSU Tech President Sheree Utash says they have a career pathway that includes high school students, and it’s going to be needed.
“It has been and extremely important part of legislation from the state to help up create a career path. We want to continue to build that for high school students,” said Utash. “Our graduates, the demand for them in the aviation workplace and manufacturing and healthcare, IT, skilled trades, whatever the case may be, are higher than they’ve ever been in the history of the college, frankly. So that the job growth is a wonderful thing for city and for this region and our state and certainly our graduates are a huge part of our fulfilling a very needed piece of that job growth.”
“Ill be happy with this new path,” says Fiedler. “I know I’ll have a good job soon.”