Talent Dividend Work

Knock, knock: Higher education is here to see you

Related Tags

Human resources directors in Wichita have been receiving some friendly visitors this summer: Ambassadors from local higher education institutions.  
The short-term goal of Wichita's Talent Dividend efforts is to increase degree completion by 1% point -- that's about 3,800 graduates -- by the year 2014. But in the long run, Wichita hopes to create a sustainable model that creates a pipeline of talent for the region's employers and become a "college mecca," where educational institutions and business partners work together to build Wichita's workforce. 
"The Talent Dividend Initiative was really a rallying cry for us," says Dr. Jackie Vietti, President of Butler Community College. "Why not work together? Let's care less about where students and going and care more that they ARE going, and completing degrees and certificates."
Wichita's talent leaders recognized early on that the effort wouldn't succeed if no one had any skin in the game. That's why membership in Achieve Kanses requires two things to join: a membership fee, and a willingness to re-think existing processes and work as a team. Sixteen regional educational institutions are currently part of the coalition. 
"Heretofore, our educational institutions have functioned in a purely competitive mode," Vietti says. "We're engaging in a paradigm shift to a collaborative mode."
The effort is initially aimed at working adults who have some college hours, but no degree -- and that requires reaching out to the region's employers. Achieve Kansas identified 10 area employers they wanted on board with Wichita's Talent Dividend efforts. Then they took an approach that seems sort of novel in our all-digital world: higher ed presidents picked up the telephone, dialed the companies' CEOs, and asked for an endorsement. And, two-by-two, Achieve Kansas members knock on the doors of HR Directors to start talking about tuition waivers, text book scholarships, flex time, on-site classes and more. 

"It shows that we're all working together on this," Vietti says. "I think that has impressed the CEOs."

Out of the 10 schools identified, Vietti estimates that six or seven have already been called on and are on board to help their employees complete their degrees. (The plan began this summer with the intent to drive enrollment this fall.) 

"So far, we're batting a thousand," says Vietti.

Source: Suzie Ahlstrand, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, and Jackie Vietti, Butler Community College
Writer: Amy Elliott Bragg

Signup for Email Alerts
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts