Apprenticeships: Growing our own talent

September 15, 2016


Carter Dyson

Carter Dyson

Last week, Gov. Matt Bevin and Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey announced the launch of a new apprenticeship campaign: “Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.” With a goal of helping more Kentucky businesses leverage registered apprenticeships to meet their workforce needs, the campaign is welcome news in the Lincoln Trail region and across the state.

Registered apprenticeships are a key solution in developing a talent pipeline that enables our employers to compete and succeed. The apprenticeship model allows employers to grow their own talent and helps apprentices pursue a pathway to high-paying careers without the burden of student debt.

There are now approximately 1,100 Kentucky employers with registered apprenticeship programs employing nearly 3,000 apprentices.

Metalsa, an automotive supplier with facilities in Elizabethtown, is one of those employers. About 20 apprentices are now training there in tooling or maintenance.

“To meet our needs for highly sought-after skill sets, we have to grow our own,” said USA Training and Development Manager Johnna Howard. “Apprenticeships, along with participation in Kentucky FAME, engineering co-ops and internships, are avenues to cultivate those skill sets.”

After completing Metalsa’s four-year apprenticeship program – a combination of on-the-job training and coursework at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College – employees earn a journeyman credential.

For employees, the apprenticeship program is a pathway to an industry credential, a high-paying career and earnings to provide more for their families, Howard said.

Apprenticeship opportunities have been especially well received by Metalsa employees. The Elizabethtown facility is preparing to add additional apprenticeships, and more than 300 employees expressed an interest.

“We’re not only building our future employees and our future leaders, we’re building our communities,” Howard added.

I couldn’t agree with her more. As apprenticeships help address Kentucky’s workforce challenges such as shortages in skilled trades and STEM fields, they promote self-sustaining employment, economic growth and an enhanced quality of life for entire communities.

At the launch of the new apprenticeship campaign, Sec. Ramsey noted the cabinet’s commitment to working with career-seekers and employers to meet workforce goals and move Kentucky forward.

“The Labor Cabinet is in an important role to serve as a conduit to link employers who need skilled labor with individuals who are looking for a great career,” he said. “Once employers, high schools and postsecondary institutions at the local level begin to collaborate and streamline efforts to create career pathways, communities all across the Commonwealth will be better positioned to thrive in today’s economy.”

In August, the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board were pleased to host Sec. Ramsey and Labor Cabinet Deputy Secretary Mike Nemes in Elizabethtown to discuss the potential of apprenticeships with regional employers and community leaders.

As the Secretary pointed out while visiting Elizabethtown, registered apprenticeships exist for nearly 1,000 skill sets. While apprenticeships have long been vital to developing talent in manufacturing and skilled trades, the model works for IT, healthcare fields and many other job sectors. The possibilities are endless, he said.

Apprenticeship programs typically range from one to five years in length, but the majority of programs last four years. For each year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice receives about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction. The Labor Cabinet works with each company to craft a customized curriculum that is specific to the employer’s needs.

For more information about apprenticeships in Kentucky, visit

Carter Dyson is One-Stop Director for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at 270-766-5115 or

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail helps match job seekers with local employment and training opportunities. Our business solutions team offers employers of all sizes and industries personalized support to build a competitive workforce. We are an equal opportunity employer.
Program is funded with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Title I funds through the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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