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Sep 12, 2019

Rejuvenated Tarkio College aims to prepare new workforce

KMA Land | September 12, 2019

(Tarkio) — Supporters of the former Tarkio College prepare for a new era for the school, with a new name.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Higher Education recently approved the certification of the Tarkio Technology Institute. Officials with Tarkio College, Incorporated plan to reopen the school January 6th as a post-secondary career and technical school offering diploma and certificate programs in plumbing technology and wind energy technology. John Davis is the school’s interim president. Speaking on KMA’s “Morning Line” program Thursday morning, Davis says the certification is a big milestone for reviving the dormant school.

“We think it’s a huge development for not just Tarkio, but for the entire area,” said Davis. “The alumni association has been working for years to rejuvenate this campus, and to create an opportunity for students in our area. This is a culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

Davis says the school’s main goal is to address the nationwide shortage of skilled workers in the career and technical areas.

“We are in a real critical situation for workers in these areas,” he said. “It’s reflected in opportunities and the salaries that come with these jobs. Secondly–especially in our rural areas–it is even more of a crisis, because it’s hard to keep our young people here. So, when we have companies in these areas like the wind energy companies, and the plumbing companies that they don’t have workers. Many of them–in fact, I think all of them–would tell you they would do a lot more work and have more jobs if they had more workers.”

Davis says other programs will be added in the future, based on demand.

“We have to start out by finding out what the employment demands are in our area,” said Davis. “We’ve identified a 60-mile radius around Tarkio as our service area. Then, once we find that there are ample opportunities for these careers, then we have to go out and create advisory committees with people who are actually in these areas, and running these companies. We depend on them to tell us whether the curriculum we’re putting together is really addressing their needs.”

School officials are projecting small enrollment numbers at first. Davis says 10 students are targeted for the plumbing program, and 12 students are expected for wind energy. But, he expects those numbers to grow.

“I, frankly, will be surprised if we are that small,” he said. “I think the demand is much bigger than that. I think the interest is much bigger than that. In my other job (part-time guidance counselor in the South Page School District), I am actually involved in a lot of career fairs, and we actually held a career fair at Tarkio College last winter. The interest level, especially in the area of wind energy technology, is just enormous. Students are very interested in this career.”

Classes will be held at the Thompson Learning Center on the Tarkio Tech campus. You can hear the full interview with John Davis on our “Morning Line” page at kmaland.com.