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Posted on: December 10, 2013

Midwest Energy and CoBank Create Career Training Scholarship Project

Midwest Energy and CoBank have established a $120,000 scholarship and career training project for people from Midwest Energy’s service area interested in careers requiring technical training from community and technical colleges in central and western Kansas.

“Too many young people from rural communities believe that to be successful, you have to leave your hometown, get a bachelor’s degree and work in a big city,” said Bob Muirhead, Midwest Energy’s director of Economic and Community Development. “The reality is we have many businesses with good-paying jobs right here, looking for people with particular training and skill sets. This new scholarship program will help local individuals pursue these opportunities.”

The pilot project, to be administered jointly by the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas Economic Development Institute, will offer a one-stop connection for trainees interested in jobs requiring career and technical training, and the businesses in central and western Kansas looking to hire them. KANSASWORKS centers, local businesses and participating technical and community colleges will collaborate to identify trainee candidates, who will then participate in customized training programs designed by industry. Priority will be given to those seeking training for jobs in high-demand occupations, including HVAC, plumbing, welding and construction and electrician trades.

“This pilot project will connect trainees with employers who need people now, and remove the barriers to those individuals acquiring the skills and credentials needed in rural Kansas communities,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George.

The program is being made possible through a $100,000 grant from Denver-based CoBank, and a matching $20,000 grant from Midwest Energy.

“In order for our rural communities to continue to grow and thrive, business and education must work together to generate greater levels of opportunity,” said Robert B. Engel, CoBank’s chief executive officer. “This new scholarship program is all about creating options and, in the process, giving both young people and rural businesses a solid foundation for the future.”

“We would like to thank CoBank for making these funds available,” said Muirhead. “Their generosity will help businesses throughout Kansas find urgently needed workers, while strengthening our communities.”

For more information about the project, contact Zoe Thompson at the Kansas Department of Commerce, 785-296-0205 or e-mail zthompson@kansascommerce.com.

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