Workforce development continues to be a challenge in Kentucky

02/07/2018 05:09 PM

FRANKFORT – Education and Workforce Development Secretary Hal Heiner told members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education and Workforce Development on Wednesday that a skills gap remains in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, particularly when it comes to middle skill jobs.

Heiner noted that currently, well over 100,000 jobs in Kentucky have gone unfilled because of a skills gap in the states workforce.

“There are over 130,000 open jobs in Kentucky, and a lot of these jobs may have more than two or three positions open for that job,” Heiner said. “Probably the actual number may approach 200,000 if some jobs have, you know, they’re looking for five people.”

One program Heiner praised in trying to attack the states workforce deficiencies is the Work Readiness Skills Initiative, a new $100 million statewide bond program is aimed at developing a highly trained, modernized workforce in the Commonwealth to meet the needs of employers and promote sustainable incomes for Kentuckians.

“We saw communities come together, private sector, local elected officials, local schools, postsecondary, coming together, putting proposals together how to train in a facility students by day and adults by night,” Heiner said.

Heiner also praised other programs which he feels are beginning to make a difference including At-Risk Dropout Prevention, in which the governor allocated $4 million in the biennium budget as well as $2 million for the Local Workforce Area Performance Incentive Funds.

One area where Heiner sees potential is the newly created 1115 Medicaid waiver in which able-bodied persons would have to get job training as part of their Medicaid payments.

“If we’re really going to move the needle for adults and families, we have to connect with adult populations in Kentucky who are not going to work,” Heiner said. “We’re excited about this new opportunity to move for the unemployment office to a job employment coaching services.”

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