By Lance Blanford
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky’s labor force participation rate dropped to an abysmal 54.7 percent in June 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though this rate has steadily risen and reached 58.1 percent in April, plenty of work still needs to be done.
This will be one of the critical issues addressed during this year’s State of the Workforce Summit. Organized by the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board (LTWDB), the State of the Workforce Summit is set for Wednesday, June 22, at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Now in its fifth year, the primary goal of the summit is to gather a diverse group of stakeholders from across the region to provide updates on the progress of LTWDB’s Workforce Crisis Task Force in the shared mission of providing innovative solutions to regional workforce challenges and capitalize on upcoming opportunities. Some of the key stakeholders who have traditionally been present during the event include business owners from various industries, human resources professionals, community support services representatives, educators, and lawmakers.
The LTWDB region includes Hardin, Meade, Nelson, Breckinridge, Grayson, Washington, LaRue, and Marion counties.
Topics that will be discussed during this year’s summit include obstacles to employment, such as transportation, housing, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and access to childcare. To a large degree, the summit will be focused on gathering a diverse group of action-oriented individuals to share their perspectives on how to address workforce challenges and opportunities in our region.
Though the pandemic has placed a myriad of challenges on our nation’s workforce, our region has many upcoming economic opportunities due to the construction of the Ford BlueOval SK Battery Park in Glendale, Nucor Steel in Brandenburg, and many others. This will require a balancing act between supporting the growth surrounding these developments with the growth and success of existing employers.
The summit is designed to bring us together to discuss innovative strategies for capitalizing on these opportunities as we grow and prosper as a region.
One major success of the Workforce Crisis Task Force has been an emphasis on Work-Based Learning Opportunities through our Unlocking Local Potential subcommittee. This subcommittee focuses on developing opportunities for mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and pre-apprenticeships in an effort to retain and recruit talent within our region.
Another success of the task force has been the Expungement Pilot Program, which seeks to assist employees with the expungement process and associated costs to remove qualifying Class D felony convictions from their records.
The State of the Workforce Summit will seek to expand upon these successes and brainstorm new and innovative approaches to workforce development.
This summit should appeal to anyone with a vested interest in the future of our region’s workforce. In my opinion, everyone in the area meets that criteria.
To register for the State of the Workforce Summit, visit ltcareercenter.org/summit2022.
Lance Blanford serves as co-chair of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board Workforce Crisis Task Force. He also serves as Workforce Development Coordinator for Bardstown City Schools and is the owner of Wee Care Learning and Development Centers and Partners in Pediatric Therapy in Bardstown.