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Op-Ed: Will you be ready when employers start hiring again?

In Education, Opinion by OC Monitor Staff

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Ohio County Monitor.

Scott Williams, Owensboro Community & Technical College President

OWENSBORO, Ky. — In a few months, we hope the worst of COVID-19 is behind us. When that happens, the economy will improve, and employers will start hiring again.

A big question is: Will they be able to find a trained and skilled workforce to fit the many open jobs they’ll have? The answer is: Yes, if Kentuckians seek training from one of the 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. We provide Kentuckians with the education and training required for today’s careers. By working with our local employers, we understand their needs and make sure our students are ready to walk out of college and into a career.

Typically, when unemployment is high, enrollment in community college increases, but that hasn’t happened during COVID. According to the Strada Education Network’s Center for Education Consumer Insights, “among the reasons people aren’t enrolling, particularly at community colleges, is that they’re too busy navigating economic uncertainty to make college a priority.” Additionally, Strada’s data suggest that when workers do decide to get training, “they’re most likely to enroll in a non-degree program or seek skills training.”

There’s no better place to do that than at the 16 colleges of KCTCS. We offer short-term training in fields that are in demand. For example, in a few short weeks, students can complete lineman or commercial driver’s license training, both of which offer an abundance of job openings right now. As a matter of fact, most of our students in these programs, and many others, have jobs waiting for them when they complete their programs. The salaries are good, too. According to Salary.com, in Kentucky, the median lineman salary is $75,000 and for truck drivers, the median salary is about $50,000.

As presidents of the KCTCS colleges, we know one of the biggest obstacles our students face is the cost of higher education. All of our colleges offer options that keep costs down. In fact, many of our students pay no tuition at all because of grants and scholarships.

One of those scholarships is the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship. Funded by the Kentucky Lottery, the WRKS provides free tuition for up to 60 hours for courses in specific programs in high-demand fields. Those include health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business/IT and construction/skilled trades. The scholarship covers hundreds of courses in these programs.

Whether students want to earn a certificate or go for an associate degree, they can, if they meet eligibility requirements for the WRKS. The scholarship is open to any Kentuckian who has not yet earned a degree. There are no age or income restrictions either.

If you’re an employer, our Workforce Solutions program might be your answer to upskilling your employees. Workforce Solutions provides customized training for employers at little to no cost.

Interested in a bachelor’s degree? Taking the first two-years of classes at KCTCS saves thousands of Kentuckians thousands of dollars each year.

So, will you be ready to go work when the pandemic ends? To be sure you are, visit the KCTCS website for information on programs, scholarships and more that are available at your local college.

It’s time to learn new skills and better your life. Don’t be left behind when employers come calling.

Signed by Paul Czarapata, Interim President, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and the 16 college presidents.

Larry Ferguson, President, Ashland Community and Technical College

Sherry Zylka, President, Big Sandy Community and Technical College

Koffi Akakpo, President, Bluegrass Community and Technical College

Juston Pate, President, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College

Fernando Figueroa, President, Gateway Community and Technical College

Jennifer Lindon, President, Hazard Community and Technical College

Jason Warren, President, Henderson Community College

Alissa Young, President, Hopkinsville Community College

Ty Handy, President, Jefferson Community and Technical College

Cindy Kelley, President, Madisonville Community College

Russ Ward, Interim President, Maysville Community and Technical College

Scott Williams, President, Owensboro Community and Technical College

Carey Castle, President, Somerset Community College

Phillip Neal, President, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College

Vic Adams, President, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College

Anton Reece, President, West Kentucky Community and Technical College

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