FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2020) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced two awards totaling $256,580 from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) for two initiatives to expand workforce development opportunities in Western Kentucky.
As part of the Delta Workforce Grant Program, the projects will expand on-the-job training opportunities, create a pipeline of well-trained workers in critical industries and create opportunity for Kentuckians in the Green River area and Paducah.
“A well-trained workforce is crucial when it comes to maintaining the state’s strong industrial position and providing stable jobs with good wages for Kentuckians,” said Gov. Beshear. “These two programs will help fill vacancies in important industries and will build an even stronger workforce in Western Kentucky.”
Gov. Beshear’s DRA Designee and Department for Local Government Commissioner Dennis Keene explained how important these grants are for creating opportunity and a ready workforce in Western Kentucky.
“These programs will create real opportunity for Western Kentuckians by offsetting many of the challenges the region faces, like job loss, declining industry and continued economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Commissioner Keene. “DRA is an invaluable partner and has invested in programs that will make a difference for Kentuckians for generations to come.”
The Green River Area Development District (GRADD) received $150,000 for the Hire to Operate (H20) program, which will support the Kentucky Rural Water Association’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. 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.”
West Kentucky Community & 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 LPN-RN 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.”
Both projects were selected as part of a $1.6 million investment in workforce training programs across the Delta Region. They were awarded because at least one partner employer demonstrated a need for skilled workers in a critical industry that will offset the hardships of industrial downsizing, business closures and job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More details on DRA’s programs are available at dra.gov. Read about other key updates, actions and information from Gov. Beshear and his administration at governor.ky.gov and the state’s response to COVID-19 at kycovid19.ky.gov.