Apprenticeships can enhance Kentucky’s workforce

Published 6:44 am Thursday, November 15, 2018


Guest columnist

As Secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, I am committed to finding new ways to help ensure Kentuckians are equipped with the necessary skills, education and training they need to continue enhancing the state’s workforce.

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Traveling across the  commonwealth, I consistently hear from parents and students about the rising cost of education. At the same time, local business owners are diligently trying to connect with highly trained and skilled workers in their own communities. Without a doubt, apprenticeships are the key to remedying both of these concerns.

Apprenticeships create the opportunity to obtain training and education directly linked to employment in highly-skilled sectors like advanced manufacturing, business and information technology, construction, healthcare, transportation and logistics. Apprenticeships also benefit local business owners by allowing businesses to develop specialized training to meet industry needs.

The commonwealth currently has 250 registered apprenticeship programs, with 3,501 active apprentices, and our goal is to double that number over the next year. There are approximately 104,000 open jobs in this state, and apprenticeships will help equip Kentuckians with the skills needed to capitalize on the opportunity.

We are serious about delivering opportunity to every community in the Bluegrass State, and we are leading America in workforce development innovation. Registered apprenticeships in Kentucky are supplying our workforce with new forms of job training in top occupations like electricians, pipe fitters, line installers, certified nurse assistants and steel workers.

If you are interested in pursuing a registered apprenticeship, the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet will connect you with the resources you need to succeed and advance in your career. There are more than 60 Kentucky Career Centers (KCC) across the state, filled with dedicated career counselors ready to help connect Kentuckians to employment opportunities at no cost.

The state’s Work Ready Skills Initiative is pouring $100 million into our communities to modernize technical schools across the  commonwealth, and this investment will allow us to create pipelines that connect students with apprenticeship opportunities. Additionally, through work ready and dual credit scholarships, we are helping Kentucky students and adults with education opportunities by providing tuition assistance towards career certifications or associate’s degrees.

By creating a highly skilled workforce through education, training and apprenticeships, we are not just meeting the needs of employers; we are also giving Kentuckians the bargaining power they need to chart their own course in a competitive market.

No one’s path to success looks the same, and we are empowering Kentuckians to find the path best for them. Utilizing a modern apprenticeship model to recruit, offer hands-on experience, and retain highly skilled, highly trained workers is how Kentucky will continue pioneering the workforce of the future.

Derrick K. Ramsey is secretary of the Kentucky Education & Workforce Development Cabinet.