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Northern Kentucky Is Building Tomorrow’s Workforce

Businesses, organizations and schools are preparing today's students for the in-demand jobs of the future.

By Teree Caruthers on February 14, 2022

Gateway Community College in Northern Kentucky
Gateway Community College

Northern Kentucky is a region that is always looking forward, from city officials developing new projects to improve the area’s quality of life to local businesses, organizations and schools taking steps today to ensure tomorrow’s workforce will be prepared to succeed. 

Take, for example, the collaboration between nonprofit organization SupplyChainOKI and Northern Kentucky schools. Together, they are introducing area students to careers in the supply chain and logistics sector by hosting question-and-answer sessions with local companies, career fairs for internships, and an Academy Program that teaches supply chain functional fundamentals, along with offering help in resume writing and mock interviews. 

Skilled Trades Camp
NaviGo College & Career Prep

Learning Vital Skills

Additionally, the Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky partners with NaviGo College and Career Prep Services, which works with schools to help students navigate career pathways, to host a summer Skilled Trades Camp. During camp, builders engage students in work-based learning activities related to carpentry, blueprint reading, electricity, plumbing, masonry and construction. 

“Our interest is trying to develop a talent pool for skilled trades in the Northern Kentucky market, and we’ve been doing that since 1967,” says Brian Miller, executive vice president of the Building Industry Association of Northern Kentucky. “We’ve designed a pathway toward licensure in three trades, and we teach another five. We both introduce high school students to the construction trades through our summer trades camps, and we offer postsecondary adult education through an apprenticeship model.” 

Growing the College & Career Network

Within the GROW NKY (Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce) collective impact strategy, NaviGo partners with the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services (NKCES) to form the NKY College & Career Network. This connects students to local businesses for work-based learning opportunities, ranging from company site visits to internships and co-ops, and connections to postsecondary training to gain skills through dual credit and specialized credentials. 

“It’s really about a student exploring a certain industry or a certain business and choosing the level that’s right for them to start that exploration, and then we help them work through that process,” says Jennie LaMothe, NaviGo’s director of school-based services. 

Northern Kentucky University’s Health Innovation Center
Nathan Lambrecht

College Prep 

Universities in Northern Kentucky also have their sights set on the future. Northern Kentucky University has partnered with multiple area school districts. Many of the collaborations relate to dual enrollment programs, which provide high school students the chance to earn college credits that give them a head start in obtaining a postsecondary education. 

One example is the Young Scholars Academy, a partnership between the university and Kenton County School District that enables high school students to take college courses at NKU and earn a certificate or an associate degree. 

“We serve public school, private school and home-schooled students from the Northern Kentucky region and beyond,” says Melissa Gorbandt, director of admissions at Northern Kentucky University. “We have partnerships with 41 high schools from 15 counties and growing. NKU also serves as the summer host for the Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs program (This program allows Kentucky high school students to focus on product innovation and business model design).” 

A Gateway to a Great Career

Gateway Community & Technical College has partnered with Boone/Kenton County high schools, NaviGo and several businesses to create a co-op program for juniors and seniors. This program allows students to earn dual credit in the classroom, then build on their skills through work-based learning experiences. 

Making Connections 

When it comes time to connect students with employers, NKU is already prepared. The university employs Handshake, a career services management platform that helps introduce students and alumni to local job opportunities, including internships and co-ops, full-time and part-time positions, and on-campus interviews and career fairs. The platform is one of the fastest-growing career services programs in the nation. 

“Employers in the region only need to use one platform to register and post positions to six local colleges and universities,” says Bill Froude, NKU director of career services. “This simplifies their job and saves time and effort.” 

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