WESTERN Ky. (KFVS) - Nearly $300,000 total was awarded to two initiatives for expanding workforce development opportunities in western Kentucky.
On Thursday, December 3, Governor Andy Beshear announced the Delta Regional Authority gave $256,580 as part of its Delta Workforce Grant Program, which expands on-the-job training opportunities, creates well-trained workers in critical industries and creates opportunity for Kentuckians in the Green River area and Paducah.
“A well-trained workforce is critical when it comes to maintaining the state’s strong industrial position and providing stable jobs with good wages for Kentuckians,” said Governor Beshear. “These two programs will help fill vacancies in important industries and will build an even stronger workforce in western Kentucky.”
West Kentucky Community and Technical College will use $106,580 for its LPN-RN Accelerated Bridge program, which pairs online coursework with a simulation lab to allow students to complete the program in as little as one year.
This program will help offset a nursing shortage by placing well-trained employees into the workforce by training up to 45 LPNs.
“WKCTC is the primary source of RNs for the region, and a recent regional hospital survey predicted a sustained need for more graduates to meet workforce needs,” said Dr. Shari Gholson, WKCTC dean of nursing. “The quickest way to get more RNs into the workforce is for LPNs to upskill by becoming RNs through our LPN-to-RN Accelerated Bridge program.”
The Green River Area Development District received $150,000 for the Hire to Operate program, which will support Kentucky Rural Water Association’s Registered Apprenticeship Program.
According to a release from the governor’s office, this program will strengthen the current and future pools of qualified water/wastewater systems operation specialists by providing instruction and hands-on training opportunities.
This investment will train 10 individuals in Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties.
“On behalf of our water utilities and systems, GRADD is extremely excited about the funding for our Hire to Operate program,” said GRAAD Executive Director Joanna Shake. “We are very grateful to Gov. Beshear and the Delta Regional Authority for investing in our workforce and ensuring a pool of qualified operators to provide safe and quality water to our communities. For many years, we have experienced a mass exodus of dedicated utility operators as a result of retirements, causing communities to struggle to retain trained and competent crews. Again, we cannot thank the Governor and DRA enough for this opportunity.”
Both projects were chosen as part of a $1.6 million investment in workforce training programs across the region. They were awarded because at least one partner employer demonstrated a need for skilled workers in a critical industry that will offset industrial downsizing, business closures and job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.