The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) has received a $25,000 planning grant to assist workers wishing to obtain training and certification for higher-paying skilled trades such as electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning and construction.
Awarded by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, EKCEP Director of Agency Expansion and Public Relations Michael Cornett said this training program, when they are able to get it established and moving forward later this year, will help laid off coal miners or anyone else seeking to make entry into the skilled trades sector.
EKCEP Industry Liaison Joyce Wilcox said the region has a critical need for new skilled career opportunities in light of ongoing coal layoffs due to an industry-wide downturn in production.
Since January 2012, these layoffs have left more than 2,000 miners and coal employees in EKCEP’s 23-county service region out of work and searching for new employment that can utilize their technical expertise.
“Even as the coal industry continues to contract, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts expansion and growth in the skilled trades industry by as much as 28 percent over the next three years,” Wilcox said. “This is a clear indicator of the opportunity for much-needed job growth in our region, and we have a workforce that’s more than ready for that opportunity.”
“Skilled trades jobs are good jobs and typically good paying jobs, but not jobs you can just walk in off the street and get without some apprenticeship experience and some certifications that go with at least one of them,” said Cornett. “Our program is going to be able to establish a training protocol whereby people who need those type of jobs and want to get into skilled trades can get the training they need here in our region instead of having to go off, say to Bowling Green or somewhere else to get certifications or apprenticeships they need to become journeymen and master craftsmen which will allow them to get the job opportunities out there.”
Cornett said EKCEP hears from employers “a lot of time,” saying they are looking for people and have a need for people, who are skilled trades trained.
“Our program, hopefully, will address that,” said Cornett. “We are going to work very quickly to establish this program. We’re going to establish some skilled trades partnerships with employers in those sectors getting information about the type of skills they need in their employees and what they have seen from our region and what they’d like to see from our region, and with that information develop a regional skilled apprenticeship council. Those different councils will involve workforce, people like us, education, labor — anyone that has a stake in this. That council will have insight and oversight and input into the development of our skilled trades apprenticeship program. It’s a three-step process.”
Cornett said this planning grant enables them to set this plan in motion, eventually resulting in a skilled trades program.
“The work has already started and we are already moving forward,” said Cornett. “We hope that at least the early portion of this project will be going some time this year. Rest assured, we are working as hard as we can to make these opportunities available.”
For more information, you may contact Joyce Wilcox 606-226-1597 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com