Home » Kentucky Chamber highlights business-driven solutions

Kentucky Chamber highlights business-driven solutions

The Bottom Line: Sawyer Coffey

Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks and the Chamber Foundation’s Workforce Center Executive Director LaKisha Miller testified before the legislature’s joint Economic Development Committee on the Chamber’s policy and programmatic approach to solving pressing workforce issues across the Commonwealth.

Though we have seen an incredible amount of job growth, Shanks said, we remain in the bottom ten states for workforce participation— the percentage of people 16 and over working or actively looking for work.

Pointing to recent studies by the Kentucky Chamber Center for Policy and Research, Shanks said the workforce challenges Kentucky faces are multifaceted and therefore require a multifaceted approach to solve them.

Miller spoke about the Foundation’s programs that target the many reasons for Kentucky’s stubbornly low workforce participation. The Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management® program demonstrates the importance of businesses working together to solve the common needs of their industry. While sharing success stories in the healthcare, distilling, and manufacturing industries, Miller stated that almost 400 employers across key industries in Kentucky are working together to fill their short- and long-term talent needs through the program.

Data shows that job numbers are outgrowing Kentucky’s population. To address this, Shanks stressed the need for Kentucky to engage untapped talent pools to attract talent to the Commonwealth.

As substance use disorder and justice involvement is two root causes of Kentucky’s workforce crisis. The Chamber is working on innovative ways to support employers looking to provide fair chance opportunities.

Shanks discussed a report the Chamber recently published that includes feedback from recovery professionals, businesses, and people in recovery who participated in a  statewide listening tour last year. The report shares stories from Kentuckians about their experiences with the justice system and substance use disorder, recommendations to support people in recovery, and policy solutions to reduce barriers to employment.

Shanks and Miller explained how the Chamber’s advocacy and Foundation programs work together to address workforce challenges using Senate Bill 191, passed by the 2020 General Assembly, as an example. This legislation created liability protections for employers hiring or retaining someone in recovery, provided they meet conditions set by the bill.

Miller highlighted new programs created after the bill’s passage, including the Fair Chance Academy and the Kentucky Transformational Employment Program (KTEP), which actively facilitates education, training, and other opportunities to support employers. In two years, the Fair Chance Academy has certified 80 employers in fair chance business practices, and KTEP has engaged 145 businesses to get involved in fair chance hiring.

In an effort to engage the workforce of tomorrow in key opportunities, the Foundation’s Bus to Business® program provides students with opportunities to receive hands-on learning experiences, meet with employers, tour facilities, and learn about critical jobs. Since 2019, Bus to Business® has impacted 90,000 students.

As child care is a major barrier for working Kentuckians, Shanks also discussed the Chamber’s involvement in the Employee Child Care Assistance Program created by House Bill 499 in the 2022 General Assembly. The program matches childcare assistance payments made by employers to assist employees with the cost of child care.

Additionally, Miller mentioned a focus area for the Foundation includes connecting employers with military members to fill talent needs.

Click here for more Kentucky business news.
Click here to Advertise.