GUEST COLUMN: <span>Kentucky leading the way in education, workforce development</span>  

Derrick Ramsey

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Four years ago, I was given the tremendous honor of joining an Administration that was committed to changing the trajectory of our state’s history by making Kentucky a leader in education and workforce development.

As Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, I have traveled throughout the Commonwealth meeting students, leaders, job seekers and employers from nearly every community in the state. A common theme that I consistently heard is Kentuckians’ desire to gain the necessary skills to excel in the workforce, and the need of employers to find qualified, skilled workers to fill open jobs.

With the support of the General Assembly, we vowed to make Kentucky a top competitor for every company seeking a home to prosper and grow their business. We answered the call from both job seekers and employers by awarding $100 million in statewide bonds to forty projects across the state dedicated to training Kentuckians in the fastest growing job sectors.

The Work Ready Skills Initiative is one of the many steps that we have taken to show our never-ending commitment to ensuring Kentucky has the ability to cultivate a highly trained, modernized workforce and offer sustainable incomes for Kentuckians. The Work Ready Skills projects have given students and adult learners direct access to modern equipment, creating a pathway that allows Kentuckians to transition directly into a competitive workforce.

One of the most exciting aspects of my job has been the opportunity to see firsthand the collaborations that are happening between public and private agencies. Now, more than ever before, communities across the state recognize that in order for Kentucky to be competitive, we must change the way we educate our children. This new way of thinking has fostered partnerships that combine on-the-job training with education, enabling us to produce a future workforce that has the soft skills and training experience to meet the needs of employers looking to do business in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s economic growth and ability to compete in a global economy greatly depends on our ability to meet employer demand. Through our continuous efforts to meet this demand, we allotted nearly $1.5 million in federal funding to grow apprenticeship opportunities and create career pipelines that offer a viable post-secondary option for every Kentuckian. Utilizing the apprenticeship model to fill workforce pipelines with diverse, productive and highly skilled workers has positioned Kentucky to take full advantage of the workforce and economic development opportunities of the future.

Through initiatives like Kentucky Advanced Technical College High (K-TECH), we are able to equip students with science, technology, engineering and math skills that will foster a qualified workforce and enhance competition in a global economy. By merging apprenticeship opportunities with education, Kentucky has been able to build career pipelines that ensure our students are prepared to successfully transition to and excel in a competitive market.

In just four short years, business investment has skyrocketed and Kentucky’s workforce is booming with opportunities for those seeking employment. As more businesses continue to invest in Kentucky, it is apparent that the hard work and dedication of this administration to build a highly skilled, highly trained workforce has not gone unnoticed.

As our chapter comes to a close, I cannot begin to express the tremendous amount of gratitude I have for the citizens of the Commonwealth and the community leaders who opened their doors to allow us to be partners in shaping the future of Kentucky. Your faith in us has helped guide our efforts in making the Commonwealth a place where each Kentuckian is proud to call this beautiful state home.

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