WSU Tech creates scholarships to help workers laid off by Spirit, other aerospace companies


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – WSU Tech is giving its graduate workers from Spirit and other aerospace companies the chance to go back to school during layoffs in hopes of keeping talent in Wichita.

Some of those graduates are among the thousands of workers who were laid off after the 737 Max production halt.

“This is a very unique situation that we find ourselves in,” said Dr. Sherree Utash, president of WSU Tech.

That situation is what school officials are trying to make as easy as possible, dipping into its budget and using donations to help laid-off workers.

The Wichita Aero Club donated $10,000 to the program.

Retweet by President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump even retweeted the Air Capital Commitment resource website, a website WSU Tech helped establish alongside city leaders and other groups.

“Anyone who’s been affected by the layoffs from the supply chain or Spirit AeroSystems is eligible for Wichita Promise scholarships to upskill their training and their education, to reskill or continue toward their degree,” said Dr. Utash.

The Wichita Promise Scholarship Program is designed to increase Wichita’s skilled workforce by helping pay for tuition and fees for students. It helps them find high wage, high demand jobs and gives them personal career coaching, training, and more.

The scholarships could open up to non-graduates and their families eventually and some Spirit workers said furthering their education is a priority even during layoffs.

“It was long training,” said Jordan Simoens, Spirit worker. “It’s extensive, you learn a lot. They pound a lot into you. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s something I’ve taken a liking to. So, I’d like to stay in it.”

The classes are put into four to six week groups so workers can complete them while laid off and be ready to return once the companies call back employees.

“They can get some additional training and education, so when they are called back to the workforce, they’ll have a new variety of skill sets,” said Dr. Utash. “They’ll have additional education and they’ll be building to their associate’s degree.”

WSU Tech said its enrollment numbers have not been affected by the layoffs and the school is on track to have record enrollment for the spring semester.

For more information about the available scholarships or other resources offered by WSU Tech, click here.


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