Employers in high-demand industries across our region are facing the same challenge. They are struggling to find the skilled employees they need to replenish an aging workforce, grow their businesses and remain globally competitive. At the same time, many Central Kentuckians with the potential to succeed in our region’s growing career fields are held back by the financial burden of continuing their education.
Bridging this divide, the new Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program makes it possible to earn a certificate or diploma in a high paying, high-demand career field tuition free. Career fields eligible for the scholarship include healthcare, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/IT and construction.
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College offers more than 120 certificate and diploma programs in these fields, from machinists, mechanics and welders to medical records specialists and computer technicians.
Further, the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship has broad eligibility criteria. If you have a high school diploma or GED, have not earned a college degree and are not in default on any obligation to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, you’re eligible. There are no income limits, meaning those who earn too much to qualify for some types of financial aid can still receive free tuition for a certificate or diploma in one of the five high-demand fields.
As more and more prospective students are discovering, succeeding in today’s job market requires more than a high school diploma. Students with goals to earn a degree can take advantage of the scholarship, working with their advisors to transfer covered classes to a degree program. Yet, many highly skilled positions do not require a degree. Many Kentuckians want to land good jobs or advance to better jobs quickly, and this scholarship helps them do just that.
In fact, in some cases, just one class can prepare someone for the next step in his or her career. With many certificates completed in as little as four months, an ECTC Work Ready Kentucky program could be the answer for anyone who wants to get in, get out and get to work.
In advanced manufacturing, for example, a skilled employee with a credential is likely to find multiple career prospects, noted Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation President and COO Rick Games.
“Advanced manufacturing is thriving in our region, adding more than 3,000 jobs in Hardin County alone over the last five years,” he said. “For people with the right skills, there are incredible opportunities for interesting work that pays very well.”
Businesses across the region are enjoying tremendous growth, be it an automotive supplier, a healthcare provider or a transportation firm. In my role at ECTC and as a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with a number of employers throughout our region. In each of the five fields targeted by the scholarship, employers relay that developing a skilled workforce is a top priority.
“The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program is a win for our region’s businesses,” said Daniel Carney, executive director of the Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Authority and a fellow member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board. “It helps develop the talent pipeline they need to succeed and even expand, creating more opportunities in our communities.”
I invite you to learn more at www.workreadykentucky.com. You also can text JOBSKY to 66186 or call ECTC at 270-769-2371. Prospective students interested in a scholarship should act quickly as funds are first-come, first-served.
Dr. Juston Pate is president and CEO of Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.