New high school graduates need jobs. Kansas industries and businesses desperately need workers. 

That ought to be a match made in heaven. But, all too often, the jobs most in demand require specialized technical skills and the high school students who could fill those jobs graduate without the training to go to work.

Both Kansas and Missouri have introduced training programs that provide high school students technical training free of charge.  

Kansas passed the Career Technical Education Act in 2013, which offers Kansas high school students the opportunity to graduate ready to go to work in good paying jobs.  

This year Missouri announced the beginning of a free career-training program for high school students effective this school year in addition to technical training in its schools. 

Western Kansas Manufacturers Association Executive Director Eddie Estes has devoted a lifetime to promoting technical education, which he calls “HIRE” education.

“There are a lot of kids who can’t or don’t want to go to college,” he said. “Sometimes they just don’t want to be in a classroom for another four years. Sometimes they need to immediately make money to help their family. And sometimes they know that college depends on paying their own way.”

No matter their situation, the Career Technical Education Program can help. 

This year, there are about 13,000 high school students enrolled in technical college programs that will help them learn the skills they need to move into high-demand jobs that offer high wages after they graduate.

In Wichita, the Wichita Technical College calls its program “JumpStart” and offers training in more than 300 job fields, including aviation manufacturing, healthcare, general manufacturing, construction trades, automotive training, law enforcement and crime scene technology – all high-demand career fields that qualify for the free tuition offering.

Missouri high school students will soon be able to access free career-related education courses online.  School districts can partner with Springfield to access the courses tuition free for their students.

At the start, courses will be available in four initial pathways: Teaching as a Profession; Marketing; Introduction to Business; and Advanced Placement Computer Science Courses.