- A new program offered by the Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology (WSU Tech), Kansas' largest technical college, allows individuals to take advantage of training for the aviation and manufacturing industries provided free of charge. The Wichita Promise Move initiative, which began in July, relocates people who live at least 75 miles outside of Wichita and pays for their relocation expenses, providing housing and cost-of-living stipends. Additionally, eligible students receive paid schooling for either aviation sheet metal assembly or process mechanic painter schooling, along with a guaranteed job upon completion and potential sign-on bonuses.
- With a goal of enrolling 25 Kansas residents and another 25 from 75 miles or more outside the Wichita area in a short-term aviation training program, the initiative has relocated 32 people from 14 states to join with another 18 enrollees preparing to move soon. The students, 75% of whom are from outside Kansas, came from as far away as Massachusetts and California.
- Most students in the program have jobs waiting for them at Textron Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems Inc, WSU Tech said. The program is funded by a grant initiative of the Wichita Community Foundation.
Many areas across the country are experiencing the impact the lack of skilled workers is having on business, communities and infrastructure. Companies are being forced to adjust work schedules or pass up on business opportunities, because of the lack of skilled workers. Others are picking up the tab for employees who need to relocate or get more training or experience, just to keep the talent pipeline flowing. Some organizations have begun offering signing bonuses of up to $20,000 for workers to join their apprentice programming.
Some employers, confident they've tapped all the available resources for talent in their locale, are advertising widely and promising bonuses to move to areas where they're located. Stories have surfaced of rural employers offering pre-employment rehabilitation treatment free of charge to lure potential employees. States like Indiana and South Carolina are working to upskill residents to meet demand. In Wisconsin, educators, employers and government are working to staff up a new skilled manufacturing facility that promises to hire over 10,000 workers when opened. The state is allocating $1 million to promote Wisconsin's career and lifestyle advantages.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the university responsible for running Wichita Promise Move. Wichita Promise Move is an initiative of the Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, also known as WSU Tech.