Growing the Commonwealth for the Common Good.

Office of Senate President Pro Tem David Givens

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox


FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 17, 2015) - Getting Kentuckians the appropriate education and training for the jobs that are available has become a key public policy issue as our country emerges from the recession. As I travel around my district, and Kentucky, I hear from employers who struggle to find qualified employees, while job seekers express frustration to me in getting good-paying jobs in their field.

That is why I started – last summer – looking at how Kentucky spends more than $900 million annually in state and federal tax dollars to support, train and educate its residents. I wanted to know what the General Assembly could do to promote more initiatives like the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, known as FAME. The program offers apprentice-style education and training to students who can earn an associate degree while learning technical workplace skills.

My examination of workforce development issues culminated in the introduction of SCR 103 during the 2015 General Assembly. It called for the establishment of the Kentucky Workforce Oversight Task Force to study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments and funding of workforce education. The task force was to submit a report by the end of the year. One goal of the task force was to recommend how to align key components of Kentucky’s strategic workforce efforts with the requirements of the federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act of 2014. It emphasized the role of workforce education as a key component of economic development. SCR 103 passed unanimously in the Senate but stalled in the House.

That was unfortunate because a report released last week by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce sounded strikingly like the resolution I constructed and tried to pass. The report called for a top-to-bottom review of Kentucky workforce training and development programs by the next governor. The report concluded Kentucky needs to do a better job disclosing how it spends its workforce development money and holding those programs accountable if they do not deliver results.

The report’s findings were stunning. Of the companies surveyed in the report, less than 10 percent of the respondents thought the overall workforce had good skills, 15 percent said they have trouble with employees passing drug tests, 23 percent said they cannot find people with the right technical skills and 27 percent said they cannot find people with “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time.

The intricate issues pertaining to workforce education, economic development, labor, industry and commerce are dispersed throughout an array of legislative committees and subcommittees, which creates barriers to a comprehensive understanding and focus. That lack of tight focus is also reflected in the many different departments, agencies and local authorities responsible for preparing Kentucky’s workers, creating further barriers to making sure our residents are prepared for modern-day jobs.

The Chamber’s study of Kentucky’s workforce system, however, has framed an important opportunity for the state to build on its citizens’ strong work ethic to create and sustain a high-quality workforce. I hope the House now sees that goal is critical to ensuring a stronger economic future for Kentucky, especially in times of growing competition and financial pressure. More must be done if Kentucky is to expand and sustain a highly skilled, globally competitive workforce. We have lost a year, but can still act during the upcoming legislative session that starts in January.


David Givens
State Senator
District 9

Note: Senator David Givens (R-Greensburg) represents the 9th District encompassing Allen, Barren, Green, Metcalfe, Monroe and Simpson counties.


David Givens
9th District

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