Company’s expansion plans come with need for expanded high-tech workforce in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Integra Technologies’ plans for expansion with a 1-million-square-foot facility and the addition of 2,000 new jobs highlight a need for the local high-tech, high-skilled workforce to grow.
Semiconductor and electronic-component manufacturing is a small part of the Kansas economy, but it’s work that’s expected to grow with Integra. There are about 40 companies in Kansas with about 1,300 employees specializing in high-tech work. The plan with Integra would more than double that. But programs educating people for these jobs aren’t readily available in the state.
Integra’s approximate-1.8-billion project comes with a lot of potential that includes opportunities for WSU Tech.
“It’s a whole new world for us. This is not any kind of work we’ve done,” said WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash.
WSU Tech is currently talking with Integra Technologies and another college with a semiconductor program so it can build its own program and help Integra meet demands for its expansion.
“We have the unique aspect of being able to be responsive to those industry needs, whether that’s reskilling or upskilling the workforce, the current workforce that they have or being able to help grow their workforce,” said WSU Tech Vice President of Aviation Manufacturing and Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Scott Lucas.
Integra’s development project hinges on federal CHIPS Act funding. If that comes through, it would be critical for WSU Tech, as well in building a semiconductor program.
“The manufacturing is done in what we call ‘a clean room.’ You might think of a clean room as a composite in aviation. This clean room is loke on steroids. It’s a very expensive program to build out,” Dr. Utash explained.
She said WSU Tech is working out the many details for this kind fo program.
“This will be an industry that will certainly employ a lot of people, 2,000 people over the net few years at all different levels, everything from an entry level to a high-level engineer,” Dr. Utash said.
This will also create new possibilities for students.
“For Kansas overall, when you start talking about what it means for our partners, I think it’s exciting when you look at what it means for our high school and k-12 districts,” Dr. Lucas said.
WSU Tech is also in talks with Panasonic to offer a program on battery manufacturing ahead of the new plant opening in DeSoto, in the Kansas City area.
An economic study of the Integra project says Kansas and surrounding areas do have a skilled workforce that, with training, can support this without significantly disrupting labor or wages.
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