A German model for closing the skills gap may soon be helping Kentucky build the skilled future workforce it needs to support the state‚Äôs manufacturers.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, accompanied by Germany‚Äôs Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Fischer and other state and education officials launched a program called the Skills Initiative.
Kentucky‚Äôs Skills Initiative is based on Germany‚Äôs dual system of vocational education under which students pursue high school diplomas while doing apprenticeships in their chosen occupations.
Gov. Beshear said that businesses are consistently telling them that the need for highly-skilled workers has never been greater, so they set out to develop the best training programs possible for meeting the present and future needs of Kentucky business.
Gov. Beshear said they found an extremely effective German program, and contacted the German embassy to find out more about it. The Governor added that the Germans had been extremely helpful, and their assistance helped create the Skills Initiative.
The initiative is open to all manufacturers in Kentucky, but the partnership between the State and the German Embassy is primarily driven by the large number of German companies in Kentucky. Currently, there are 62 German-owned businesses in the state, which together employ more than 9,000 people.
Through the Skills Initiative, the German Embassy brings together local education and training providers with manufacturers. Participation for students is entirely voluntary.
Fischer said the Skills Initiative is a win-win idea and everyone benefits. He added that German-American cooperation on workforce skills development will provide communities across Kentucky with opportunities for quality training, good jobs and businesses capable of succeeding in the U.S. and global markets.
The primary aim of the Skills Initiative is to align Kentucky‚Äôs existing education and workforce development resources into a system of dual-track training that provides education and jobs at the same time. There are already more than 150 Kentucky companies employing hundreds of students through formalized dual-track training programs.
Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said their aim with the Skills Initiative is for it to be industry-driven and based on market demands of Kentucky‚Äôs workforce needs.
The Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency administering Kentucky economic development programs and initiatives.