TOPEKA – The Advantage Kansas Coordinating Council held its first meeting Monday, officially beginning its work to implement Governor Laura Kelly’s vision of Kansas having the best educated, most skilled workforce in the Midwest.

The Governor signed an Executive Order in March establishing the Advantage Kansas Coordinating Council, which creates a statewide forum for crafting policy and legislative proposals aimed at workforce development.

“This council will align our education system with the needs of business and industry to build the robust pipeline of skilled workers needed to ensure we don’t fall behind in a constantly-evolving economy,” Governor Kelly said. “We must invest in our children and our businesses to create opportunities for all Kansans.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Council committed itself to the Governor’s 5-year vision of being the best in the Midwest in three key areas:

  1. Post-secondary readiness and success;
  2. Preparation for high-wage, high-demand, high-skilled, critical need occupations and;
  3. Business expansion, attraction, and retention.

The Council reviewed findings surrounding Kansas’s economic competitiveness from the state’s new economic development strategy, the Framework for Growth. After assessing the state’s existing advantages and areas for growth, the Council delved into educational attainment data in Kansas, identifying information gaps and metrics to assess growth in workforce development opportunities like apprenticeships, certifications, and more. The group concluded the meeting by organizing itself into three workgroups, each focused on one of three priority areas identified by the Governor:

  • The Jump Start Kansas team will work on post-secondary readiness and success, helping to improve work based and applied learning opportunities in the state;
  • The Talent Ready Kansas team will focus on preparation for high-wage, high-demand,, high-skilled, critical need occupations in Kansas, working to expand apprenticeship programs and increasing industry preparation in higher-education;
  • The Opportunity Kansas team will center its work on business expansion, attraction, and retention, helping to make Kansas the best place to live, invest, and grow.

The Advantage Kansas Council will meet monthly, with the next full-council meeting scheduled for May 12th. All meetings will be streamed live and notice will be posted via Public Square. Members of the public can view the meeting on the Board of Regent’s YouTube page here and access the meeting documents here.

Governor Kelly appointed the following members:

  • Alan Cobb, Topeka, Co-Chair
  • Shelly Kiblinger, Cherryvale, Co-Chair
  • Vijay Ramasamy, Topeka, Governor’s Office Representative
  • Dr. Cindy Lane, Kansas City, Governor’s Office Representative
  • Ann Mah, Topeka, State Board of Education Representative
  • Jean Clifford, Garden City, State Board of Education Representative
  • Dr. Randy Watson, McPherson, KS Commissioner of Education
  • Dr. Blake Flanders, Topeka, President and CEO of KBOR
  • Trent Armbrust, Manhattan, KS Department of Commerce
  • Matt Lindsey, Lawrence, Kansas Independent Colleges Association
  • Becky Wolfe, Augusta, Chamber of Commerce Executives of Kansas
  • Bob Hale, Kansas City, Organized Labor Association Representative