Helping young adults ‘gear up’ for manufacturing careers

June 28, 2017
Trish Niles

Trish Niles

As a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board (LTWDB) and a human resource professional, I can relay firsthand our region’s growing demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry. At the same time, we know there are young adults living in our region who are interested in meaningful careers in manufacturing, but need help to get a successful start.

With that in mind, the LTWDB is very proud to partner with Elizabethtown Community and Technical College to offer a new program that takes a long-term approach to ensuring young adults interested in manufacturing find sustainable employment.

Gear Up for KY FAME – named for the KY FAME (Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education) students it largely targets – is open to qualifying 18- to 24-year-olds who are not employed and live in the Lincoln Trail Area Development District, which includes Breckinridge, Grayson, Hardin, LaRue, Marion, Meade, Nelson and Washington counties.

The program begins with two weeks of training in a variety of topics including soft skills.

“There is a soft skills gap in our current workforce, and we want Gear Up participants to have a strong understanding of things like personal work ethic and communicating in the workplace,” said Dr. Tom Davenport, dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at ECTC.

Training also will be provided in computer skills, financial literacy, industrial safety and other topics. What’s more is participants will earn two college credit hours at no cost.

After completing the training, students will be paired with one of our region’s manufacturers for six weeks of paid work experience. This resume-building experience and up-close exposure to the manufacturing industry will be invaluable to program participants as well as employers who are working to meet the current and future talent needs of their businesses.

One of the LTWDB’s priorities always is to develop business-driven programs and strong relationships with employers. We are very pleased that employers throughout the region have shown great interest in the program and are willing to provide a variety of meaningful work experiences and mentoring to participants.

“There is so much opportunity in our region for those who have technical skills or are willing to develop those skills, and this is another way we are working to match employers with potential talent,” Davenport said. “In fact, it’s likely that many of the participants will land permanent positions through this program.”

As important as the training and work experience, ECTC staff will continue to monitor Gear Up participants’ success for one year. They’ll provide the coaching and referrals these young adults may need to overcome any barriers and move forward in their career pathway.

While many of the participants are those set to begin the KY FAME program in the fall, the program is open to others.

KY FAME is an apprenticeship-style program in which students attend classes at ECTC in Springfield or Elizabethtown and work for a manufacturer for 24 hours per week. At the conclusion of the five-semester program, students earn an associate degree in applied science in industrial maintenance technology and earn the Advanced Manufacturing Technician certification.

For more information and to sign up for Gear Up, call ECTC at 270-706-8700 by Sept. 15. You also can text 270-307-5966 or email

The program, including the wages students will earn, is made possible by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds allocated by the LTWDB, and eligibility requirements apply. To determine eligibility, those interested can contact Leslie Norris,, at the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail.

Trish Niles is a member of the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board and Human Resource Manager at Mid Park in Leitchfield. She can be reached at

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 Labor Cabinet and the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board.
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