LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, announced Thursday that it will kick off its Equine Workforce Talent Pipeline project with an informational breakfast at Keeneland. The event will be held at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 14 in the Keeneland Room.
Recognizing that the horse industry is a unique and critical part of Kentucky’s economy, with an economic impact of nearly $4 billion annually and responsible for more than 80,000 jobs, KEEP, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Keeneland have embarked on this partnership to address the job needs within the industry across the state. Kentucky Horse Council, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville Equine Industry Program are also providing support for the program.
The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center announced the hiring earlier this month of Laurie Mays who will work with KEEP and the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center to assess the workforce needs of the equine industry and collect the data necessary to create a talent pipeline of qualified candidates to meet the demand of the industry’s labor shortages in Kentucky. The project will focus on four employer groups: farms, sales consignors, trainers and racetrack workers and veterinary staff.
Bill Thomason, president and CEO of Keeneland, said, “Keeneland recognizes the labor challenges faced by both owners and trainers who race at Keeneland and consigners who sell horses here. The short- and long-term success of our industry depends upon the availability of a workforce that is committed to the horse. We look forward to supporting this vital project.”
Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s executive vice president who oversees operations, said, “During my tenure at KEEP, we have been focused on the economic impact the horse industry has on Kentucky and all Kentuckians. Addressing our industry’s labor issues is an integral part of that and we are looking forward to
pioneering this approach to the issue with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.”
Jensen added, “With the improving economy, the demand for a capable workforce has increased at the same time that the industry has faced a shrinking and inconsistent immigrant labor pool. It is essential that we build a talent pipeline of Kentuckians to meet the opportunities and challenges that the horse industry will encounter in the near future.”
Beth Davisson, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Center’s executive director, said, “Workforce will remain a key issue all across Kentucky and the nation for the foreseeable future, and who better to lead this conversation than Kentucky’s business community? Businesses throughout the commonwealth are unable to grow without the right talent in place, and the Kentucky Chamber’s Workforce Center demonstrates our dedication to preparing Kentucky’s workforce and to building a thriving economy.”
All media, employers, human resources professionals and educators within the equine industry are invited to attend a breakfast at Keeneland to learn more about the project and register to be part of the employer work groups.
Following the kick off, the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center will hold meetings throughout the two year project to develop strategies to improve Kentucky’s workforce issues across six different industry areas, including the horse industry. Participating employers, employer-led associations and education providers will build partnerships while using a demand-driven concept in order to connect employees and employers.
For more information, or to RSVP for the kickoff event, contact Laurie Mays: [email protected] or (859) 259-0007.