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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Governor Steve Beshear announced Monday the creation of WorkSmart Kentucky, an initiative that aims to offer employers workforce services and resources in one place.
WorkSmart Kentucky partners with new and established companies to match employer needs with available workforce resources. Qualifying companies within the Commonwealth will be eligible for recruitment and job screening services at no cost.
In addition, flexible grant funding will be available to offset the costs of customized and in-house training needs; to establish apprenticeship programs; and to provide free safety and OSHA training.
The initiative is comprised of collaborations between workforce professionals from the state's Cabinet for Economic Development, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Labor Cabinet and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
"What we've found is that companies don't care about program or agency names, they just want results," said Gov. Beshear. "By strategically aligning our state workforce resources, we're now able to provide a comprehensive, solutions-based approach to our workforce delivery system. This will not only allow us to better meet the needs of our existing employers, but will also create a distinct advantage for the state's business recruitment efforts."
The newly-created statewide network of WorkSmart teams will provide solutions-based resources that align with the needs of Kentucky's business clients. WorkSmart professionals are tasked with identifying the specific workforce needs of each company, customizing flexible recruitment and training solutions, and implementing quality services in a timely fashion.
"The availability and dependability of a qualified workforce is the single most important factor to a company's success," said Gov. Beshear. "From customized training and employee recruitment to grants, tax credits and alliances with fellow business leaders, WorkSmart Kentucky is a one-stop shop for developing a workforce to help maintain the Commonwealth as a key player in the global economy for years to come."
In 2013, the state, in conjunction with its workforce partners, provided training for nearly 85,000 Kentuckians from a variety of industry sectors, including manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, distribution, and research and development. In addition, pre-employment services were provided to more than 95,000 individuals and 2,650 companies in the Commonwealth.
"While other states might receive more recognition for their workforce programs, the numbers show Kentucky is already leading the charge in employee recruitment and development," said Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes. "WorkSmart Kentucky will allow the Commonwealth to further build on that success by aligning our resources. This initiative will take our hiring and training capabilities to the next level."
"Kentucky has produced a number of best practices as we work to create a more relevant workforce development system," said Education and Workforce Development Secretary Tom Zawacki. "These innovations are based on business and industry leadership, data-driven investment decisions and customer-focused approaches. WorkSmart Kentucky unites our education, labor, workforce and economic development partners, and will build on this strategic groundwork to provide more effective and cohesive education, training and employer services."
"This is all about the people of Kentucky. Skilled and talented workers are what companies need, and businesses will come here and stay here if they have easy access to an educated, skilled and talented workforce," said Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts. "WorkSmart Kentucky provides a chance for business, industry and government to work together to assure Kentucky's workforce possesses the skills required to meet the needs of employers."
"Our mission is to provide Kentuckians with the education and training they need to succeed in today's evolving economy," said KCTCS President Michael B. McCall. "WorkSmart Kentucky builds on our existing programs and partnerships, positioning the Commonwealth to become recognized as a national leader in creating innovative approaches to meet the needs of both our citizens and business and industry."