Home » Kentucky Chamber report recommends exhaustive review of workforce programs

Kentucky Chamber report recommends exhaustive review of workforce programs

Frankfort, Ky. – A new report released by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce today outlines the challenges Kentucky’s employers face when it comes to building their workforce and provides recommendations to meet those challenges.

The report was spurred by ongoing concerns chamber members have expressed in the past several months about workforce-related difficulties they encounter – according to a survey of chamber members, less than 10 percent of employers believe their overall workforce has “good skills.”

Titled “Kentucky’s Workforce Challenges: The Employer’s Perspective,” the report looks “under the hood” of Kentucky’s workforce training and development programs and offers the organization’s findings.

The report was authored by the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Group. Members are Howard Blackburn, Community Trust Bank, Pikeville; Ron Bunch, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce; Jeri Isbell, Lexmark International, Lexington; Kim Menke, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Georgetown; Patrick Murphy, UPS, Louisville; Ron Sanders, People Plus, Madisonville; Tierra Kavanaugh Turner, TKT-nectir Global Staffing LLC, Louisville.

The challenges and shortcomings the report identifies include a disconnect between state workforce programs and job seekers, confusion about administering state programs at the local level, and inefficient coordination between educational institutions, economic development agencies, and workforce programs.

Specifically, the report outlines eight workforce issues:

·      A lack of employer engagement – an insufficient amount of involvement by employers to influence training programs that address demand-side needs

·      Confusion on local contact – a lack of clarity who or what agency is in charge of delivering state program benefits at the local level

·      Promoting available programs – there is a greater need for outreach to both employers and job seekers about available workforce programs, as well as what employers need for specific training and skill development

·      Who controls the programs and the money – there is ongoing confusion related to the governance, management and coordination of workforce programs

·      A lack of “soft skills” – the need for improved employability skills, such as attendance, communication and teamwork, among job seekers

·      Drugs in the workplace – increased difficulty finding drug-free job applicants

·      Using job credentials – inconsistent use of credentials, by employers, job seekers, and educational institutions

·      Inefficient coordination – insufficient communication among educational institutions, economic development agencies and workforce programs.

The report acknowledges that these challenges are not widespread across the nation and not unique to Kentucky employers.

To address these challenges, the report outlines a number of recommendations for organization, funding, accountability and governance, and to effectively engage employers:

·      The new governor’s first act to support job creation and retention should be to order an organizational and management review of the state’s workforce training and development system.

·      Kentucky should develop and maintain a regularly updated and released asset map that identifies all funding sources and provides a framework for accountability for state and local spending and results.

·      Agreements that guide the operation of local workforce areas should include provisions requiring that the dominant business organization or association in the area be responsible for naming employer members of the workforce boards.

·      The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce should issue an annual assessment of whether local workforce boards are engaging employers in a holistic manner.

·      State workforce officials and business leaders should jointly develop a structure to ensure meaningful employer participation in the development of Kentucky’s state and local plans, and employers should actively participate in state and local workforce boards.

·      The new governor should set-aside funds under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act to support the development of employer-led collaboratives to guide workforce initiatives.

·      The state’s business community should develop a focused voice on workforce issues to advance the interests of both small and large employers.

To further promote workforce initiatives that are available, the report recommends state officials and business leaders should jointly develop and implement an outreach campaign to raise awareness of workforce programs. Other recommendations addressed issues related to employability and strengthening the use of appropriate credentials.