By the Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:00 am
It's not always luring a large company to a city or state that creates jobs. Sometimes the jobs are already there but just not enough of a trained work force to meet the demand. That's where postsecondary institutions such as Owensboro Community amp; Technical College can make a difference. And last Tuesday, OCTC was placed in a position to equip students with the skills to become vet technologists and technicians, two of the fastest growing occupations in Kentucky that require an associate's degree. According to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the fields of vet technologists and technicians are estimated to grow 39 percent in the next six years. That's a positive statistic considering college graduates have found employment hard to come by these days. Gov. Steve Beshear delivered OCTC the $475,500 grant that will allow it to create the new program, requiring the renovation of laboratories and classrooms, installing surgical facilities, indoor/outdoor animal holds and additional office space at the downtown campus. "Today we're here to celebrate the marriage between our institutions of higher learning and our workplace," Beshear said. And it's a "marriage" that we need to see more of. In this case, OCTC surveyed western Kentucky veterinarians who acknowledged a lack of qualified local workers to fill the vet tech void. Instead of saturating the market with common two-year and four-year degrees offered by multiple colleges, more effort like this should be made identifying job areas of need. From everything we can tell, OCTC President James Klauber has accepted the challenge in searching for useful and meaningful degrees that will enable students to find jobs in their career fields once they graduate. It's a mindset that will bode well for the future of OCTC and one that other state colleges and universities could stand to adopt.