Logan County has been working as part of the Kentucky Work Ready Communities program for nearly two years now.
When Logan County first got on board with the program, only a handful of Kentucky’s 120 counties were taking part, but this week Gov. Steve Beshear announced that the program has engaged all counties to strive to meet workforce development goals.
“The quality of our workforce is the key factor that will dictate Kentucky’s ability to attract jobs of the future and ensure Kentucky’s prosperity,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are putting a system in place that will better equip Kentucky’s workforce with the skills required to be competitive in the new economy and will provide our businesses with the top-notch workforce they need.”
The Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification program from the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (KWIB) and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.
The Governor joined the state’s county judge-executives today at their annual conference to also share that more than half of the counties in the Commonwealth have achieved certification. The KWIB will hold its quarterly meeting Nov. 19 to give final approval for the newest counties to be certified.
Logan County was certified as a Work Ready Community in progress in 2013.
To become certified, a county must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. Counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rates, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.
“Reaching this milestone for participation of counties in the Work Ready Communities program reflects the hard work and dedication of local community leaders who want their communities to thrive,” said Gov. Beshear. “This work is breathing new life into the economic development of many Kentucky counties.”
After the November KWIB meeting, the counties of Boone, Boyd, Boyle, Campbell, Carlisle, Clark, Daviess, Fleming, Greenup, Hardin, Henderson, Hopkins, Kenton, Madison, Marshall, McCracken, Nelson, Oldham, Pulaski, Rowan, Shelby, Union, Warren, Washington and Woodford will have been designated as Kentucky Work Ready Communities since certification began in February 2012. Counties that achieve Kentucky Work Ready status must be recertified every two years.
Since the inception of the program, 39 counties will have been designated as Kentucky Work Ready Communities in Progress because they are close to meeting the Kentucky Work Ready Community criteria. To achieve this level, a county must present a viable plan to meet all of the criteria within three years. The designation shows that a community is making strides and working with its business, education, workforce and economic development leaders to set and meet common goals that will give the county an economic edge.
The Kentucky Work Ready Communities program is just one of the workforce development initiatives Gov. Beshear has championed since he reconstituted the KWIB in May 2009. Enhancements to the Kentucky Career Center network and programs such as Industry Partnerships are Sector Strategies directly address skills gap issues and have been recognized nationally as a model for other states to better equip workers and serve employers.
“One of my top goals as Governor has been to create a workforce executives can’t wait to hire,” said Gov. Beshear. “The first step toward achieving that goal is improving our education programs that will prepare our students for the increasingly high-tech jobs of the 21st Century.”
From cradle through career, education results in the Commonwealth are trending upward. Gov. Beshear successfully pushed for legislation to implement a five-star rating system, Kentucky ALL STARS, for early care and education programs. This system will help families more easily identify quality facilities, so their children are more likely to arrive at school ready to learn and succeed.
Working with schools, businesses, local leaders and parents, Gov. Beshear pushed the General Assembly to raise Kentucky’s high school dropout age from 16 to 18 years old. The administration also eased the transfer of college credits and implemented modern apprentice-style programs such as KY FAME to help prepare our workforce for highly skilled jobs.
Kentucky was the first state in the nation to adopt the Common Core State Standards for English/language arts and math and the second to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.
All these initiatives are starting to show an impact: In 2010, education experts measured Kentucky’s college and career readiness rate at 34 percent. Today it is at 62 percent and rising.
Kentucky also now ranks 10th in the nation in high school graduation rates, with 86 percent of all students completing high school.
To contact OJ Stapleton, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.