Building the Future

An update on the Workforce Development Strategic Visioning Report

Background

In 2016, employers from the Greater Owensboro area were gathered to collaborate on workforce issues. The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Owensboro Community & Technical College and Western Kentucky University-Owensboro listened to what employers had to say about workforce issues and prepared the Greater Owensboro Workforce Development Strategic Visioning Report that was released in September 2016. The community partners heard directly from employers in the Health Care/Medical, Hospitality/Retail/Customer Service, Manufacturing/Skilled Trades and Professional sectors. The collaborative discussions were just the first phase of an ongoing initiative to build and sustain a quality workforce and delivery system.

The report reveals that the key issues for employers, when searching for qualified candidates and promoting incumbent workers, are soft skills, technical skills, and generational skills. Also discussed were the sources used by employers to find candidates to fill open positions and the familiarity with available state and local resources.

Part of the ongoing initiative is to build upon those initial meetings and keep all the stakeholders engaged, involved and informed of what is taking place to build and sustain the region’s quality workforce and delivery system. One way to do this is to provide the information on the work that is taking place to achieve the goals.

The next steps published in the report included re-establishment of the Business/Education Partnership Council, review of criteria for the Soft Skills Certificate, development of new strategies to address the process of recruiting employees, and developing training for issues that employers identify as important.

As a way of keeping all the stakeholders involved, engaged and informed, periodical news articles will be published to the News section of the GO-EDC website as well as emailed to all the participants from the initial workshops. Recent news will be shared as to what different groups are accomplishing and the initiatives that are being developed.

Update on the progress…

In response to employers’ need in finding qualified and skilled workers, the GO FAME program has expanded. GO FAME is a chapter of the KY FAME statewide program that is led by company leaders who partner with educational institutions in offering apprenticeships to students. The program helps students gain hands on work experience while also receiving education through an accelerated program. The companies involved will be developing a pipeline of ready skilled workers while the students will be receiving accelerated education with little or no debt. Learn more about GO FAME.

The GO FAME program has reported that in May 2017, the first cohort of 15 students will graduate from the AMT program (Advanced Manufacturing Program) with a 3.6 GPA. Last Fall, the second cohort began and will be completing their first semester. There are 9 students going through the CMM program (Computerized Manufacturing and Machining) at this time.

Recently, one of the students from the AMT program sponsored by OMICO Plastics was selected to take part in the 2017 NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar program. The student was training to become a plumber when he heard of the GO FAME program. He has a talent related to aerospace engineering which would not have been realized without the experience received through the educational opportunity at OCTC and working with OMICO. These types of programs present opportunities to students that may not come before them otherwise.

There were several advertising videos and articles published to promote the GO FAME program. The videos give the student and employer perspectives on the apprenticeship programs.

In the Fall of 2016, U.S. Bank began a similar apprenticeship program that gives current employees an opportunity to begin education or finish a degree in the finance area. U.S. Bank is sponsoring 19 employees in the first of a three-phase plan initiated under GO CAREERS, an expansion of the Owensboro region’s GO FAME chapter. Two more phases will be implemented and offered to those interested in being employed with U.S. Bank and the third phase will be open to high school students interested in the finance program. In the Fall of 2017, a cohort of students from a variety of employers will be participating in the GO CAREERS business/finance program.

Like the 20 or so manufacturers participating in GO FAME, U.S. Bank has embarked in taking control of growing the pipeline to their workforce.

The Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce recognized the GO FAME and GO CAREERS program as the Education and Workforce Development Program of the Year.