There is no doubt that an employee with the right skills has a direct effect on an employer’s bottom line.
Developing a talent pipeline that meets the needs of local employers is critical to giving our region a competitive advantage that attracts new business investment and helps existing companies grow. But equally important to the success of our region’s employers – and by extension, our communities – is a commitment to professional development and training that upgrades employees’ skills in the always-evolving workplace.
So many companies across the Lincoln Trail region view training not as a cost, but as an investment. However, the dollars spent on training can hardly be ignored.
That’s why a number of programs available through Kentucky’s workforce and economic development agencies of the Kentucky Skills Network are designed to make training more affordable. Moreover, these programs are designed to help build and maintain a globally competitive workforce.
Incumbent Worker Training
The Incumbent Worker Training program may reimburse 50 to 90 percent of training costs, depending on the size of the company, for in-demand sectors and occupations including manufacturing, technology, healthcare and food and beverage production.
Overseen by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board, the program helps businesses in the eight-county Lincoln Trail region – Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties – ensure they retain and grow the workforce that is critical to their competitiveness in the marketplace and, therefore, critical to the economic health of our region.
With a maximum annual reimbursement of $10,000 per year, Incumbent Worker Training can help companies cover the costs of non-company instructors, tuition, curriculum development, textbooks, supplies and more.
In most industry sectors, businesses and consortia in the Lincoln Trail region also may apply for KCTCS TRAINS funds through Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Workforce Solutions.
“We sit down with an employer and ask them what they need to accomplish,” said Tom Davenport, dean of workforce development and continuing education at ECTC. “Everything is truly customized and user-friendly.”
In a given year, ECTC works with approximately 25 companies throughout its 10-county service area to upgrade the skills of 1,500 workers. Those companies range from banks and telecommunications firms to hospitals, manufacturers and even beekeepers.
Bluegrass State Skills Corporation
Employers can also find resources through the Bluegrass State Skills Corporation (BSSC). The organization oversees the Grant in Aid program and the Skills Training Investment Credit.
The Grant in Aid program is a competitive program that reimburses up to 50 percent of training costs for new and expanding companies as well as skills upgrades for employees of existing companies. Manufacturers, non-retail service and technology firms, public and non-profit hospitals and training consortia are eligible for funding.
The Skills Training Investment Credit provides savings through tax credits of up to 50 percent of training costs for existing employees of Kentucky companies in select in-demand industries.
In fiscal year 2015, BSSC approved applications from more than 140 companies and consortia to train approximately 27,500 Kentucky workers.
“When an employer and employee commit to skills upgrade training, it’s a win for the employee, a win for the employer and certainly a win for the local community and Kentucky,” said Josh Benton, executive director of workforce development at the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
Workers gain transferable skills and credentials, which not only increase their earning and promotion potential, but also job satisfaction.
For employers, the business is able to respond to competitive pressures whether incorporating new products or processes and technology or increasing quality and efficiency.
And for our communities, investing in skills upgrade training has a direct impact on increasing career opportunities, new business investment and our quality of life.
I encourage employers considering employee training to learn more about how the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board can help. Together, with our workforce development partners across the region and state, we can find or develop the best training package for your company and your employees.
Jim Skees is the business liaison for Lincoln Trail Area Development District and regional business services team lead for Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail. He can be reached at (270) 769-2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.