Effective workforce training and service programs are critical to ensuring a successful future for countless businesses across Kentucky, the people they employ and the state as a whole. But in Kentucky, as across the nation, many employers struggle to find people with the right skills for the jobs they have available. Job seekers, meanwhile, encounter frustrations as they try to find the right job to match their skills and abilities at the compensation level they expect. Kentucky’s workforce training system is notably complex with multiple layers and differing agency responsibilities. Programs receive state and federal funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and programs range from job-specific skill development to support for job seekers.
The Kentucky Chamber conducted a year-long review of the state’s workforce system, culminating in the release of a report, “Kentucky’s Workforce Challenges: The Employer’s Perspective,” in July 2015. This “look under the hood” identified key challenges facing the system and made a series of recommendations – for both state programs and employer groups – to address those challenges. Of particular concern to employers is the absence of so-called soft skills among job seekers and new employees. These skills include the ability to communicate, work well on a team, show up regularly and on time for work, handle conflict and other traits. To address this critical problem, the Chamber supports incorporating soft skills into the state’s K-12 education accountability system to improve students’ development of characteristics that will improve their prospects for success in both postsecondary education and the workplace. The Chamber will continue its advocacy for this and other improvements in the development of a high-quality workforce system.