SCCC instructor Butch Garst: ‘You’ll always have a job’
Almost four decades since he took his first job in a machine shop, Butch Garst has never lacked for work. The Seward County Community College instructor experienced the reality firsthand this summer, filling a spot at City Machine and Welding in Amarillo, Texas.
“They’re just really shorthanded because they’re in expansion mode,” Garst said. “They are creating parts for companies that manufacture other products. Manufacturing is growing at the fastest pace in history, and they can’t find enough people to come in and do it.”
Garst is ready to help fill that gap by training more machine-tool professionals at SCCC’s industrial tech campus.
“In just 10 months, our students can get into an apprenticeship program and go to work,” Garst said. “It’s a great profession for someone who is really hands-on and likes to make things.”
His own professional path reflects that, Garst said.
“I went to work right out of high school,” he recalled. On-the-job training helped him expand his skill set from traditional machining techniques using lathes, drill presses, and other shop tools.
“This was back in the 80s, when the industry had just moved into automation and computer-connected work. It was cutting-edge stuff,” he said. As the oil and gas industry waxed and waned, the need for machinists remained.
“If you’re a good machinist, you can always get a job,” Garst said. “Technology is always changing, so while we’re training students to use what’s there right now, we know it’s becoming a high-tech industry and they need those computer skills as a foundation.”
As was the case for him, Garst said, students benefit from hands-on training with employers. It was through student awareness events that he was recruited by City Machine to lend a hand over the summer, and many such opportunities continually arise for SCCC students.
“We’ve been working with local and regional companies to create partnerships,” he said, listing Kanamak Hydraulics in Garden City, Bradbury in Moundridge, local shops Disco and Myriad, and City Machine of Amarillo.
Enrollment for fall classes at SCCC is open now. For more information, call Garst at 620-417-1681, or SCCC admissions, 620-417-1102.