It is sometimes challenging to find a desired job or career path, and on the other side of the coin, sometimes employers find it equally challenging to locate quality employees.

According to the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, there are around 600 skilled-labor jobs available in Buchanan County. A recent partnership between Metropolitan Community College and Hillyard Technical Center may eventually be responsible for bridging this gap between employers and future employees.

Dylan McGregor, 23, has been working in construction the past two years. He was present at the MCC open house to find out about a possible career path.

“Right now I work for an insulation company — just putting insulation in new homes — stuff like that,” McGregor said. “And I’m really looking into PTA, which is a physical therapy assistant.”

McGregor said he began considering the new career path after he tore the ACL tendon in his knee and went through physical therapy himself.

Between 2015 and 2016 MCC alumni were responsible for generating $722 million in added income for the region. This statistic was self-reported by MCC.

MCC President Tyjuan Lee was present at the open house to discuss career paths with students, which included continuing education and career technical training.

“Those programs allow us to train individuals, get them certified, and then get them back into the workforce,” Lee said. “So those 600 employees — send them to MCC, and we’ll make sure we get them trained quickly and back into the workforce.”

Kristie Arthur, director of workforce development for the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, said this connection between MCC, Hillyard Technical and St. Joseph is a huge accomplishment, “which potentially creates a pipeline between higher education and St. Joseph employers,” Arthur said.

There will be two more open house events at Hillyard Technical Center (Aug. 1 and 12), so MCC representatives can answer questions on possible career paths. Both events will run between 5 and 7 p.m.

“The other piece is that we have some (reps) here during the week, Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 4:30, if someone wants to come out even when we don’t have an open house,” Lee said.

Instructor positions also are available and for technical positions such as welding. Individuals with 3 to 5 years of job experience could possibly qualify to teach classes.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached

at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com.

Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.