Kentucky Colleges Provide Quality Workforce

Kentucky provides a ready supply of skilled and knowledge-based workers.

Pamela Coyle
On Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 10:19

One of Kentucky’s significant advantages as a place to live and work is its strong network of colleges and universities. From major research centers such as the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, four-year private and public universities across the state, and community and technical colleges, Kentucky provides a ready supply of skilled and knowledge-based workers.

Kentucky Community and Technical College System

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) encompasses 16 colleges at 68 campuses strategically located across the state that offer dozens of credit and certificate courses in a range of careers and disciplines. Many of the courses are offered in the evening or online to appeal to people already in the workforce.

Tuition throughout the Kentucky Community and Technical College System is much less than what is charged at four-year universities, with a credit hour at KCTCS schools costing as little as $125.

Bluegrass State Skills Corp. in KY

Often working in concert with the state colleges is the Bluegrass State Skills Corp. (BSSC), which provides millions of dollars in training grants each year to manufacturers, hospitals or companies that have an economic development impact on Kentucky. BSSC is attached to the Cabinet for Economic Development in recognition of the relationship between economic development and workforce training. Its grants help companies train their employees so they can operate in the most efficient and productive manner possible and stay competitive.

In its 2008-09 fiscal year, the division provided workforce training grants to companies and organizations that included 3M, Baptist Healthcare System, Citi Group, Ford Motor Co., Ingersoll Rand, Kimberly-Clark, Papa John’s, Raytheon and Sherwin-Williams.

“And it’s not just big companies,” says Robert Curry, Bluegrass State Skills Corp. executive director. “We also annually assist companies that are considered small businesses. Overall, the grants we approve range from $2,500 to nearly $200,000, depending on the scope of the training project.”

BSSC was established in 1984 to stimulate economic development, specifically by customizing advanced skills training programs for business and industry. In fiscal year 2008-09, the BSSC Board of Directors approved more than 225 annual grants totaling almost $8 million to train more than 32,000 Kentucky workers.

Besides the monetary grants, BSSC also provides $2.5 million in annual tax credits to businesses that partake in employee training initiatives.

“There is still a strong demand for BSSC grants and tax credits even in this tough economy, which is encouraging, because it shows that companies are still interested in upgrading and moving their workforces forward,” Curry says. “These are the Kentucky companies that will be much better prepared once the economy turns around, reaping the rewards of having a highly skilled, globally competitive workforce.”