No surprise to us HR professionals as the Bridging the Talent Gap Survey reveals most Kentucky companies face a talent shortage. This based on the results of 1084 respondents to the survey. The results of the survey were revealed May 22 at the KY SHRM statewide Bridging the Talent Gap Reveal event. The 180 attendees heard and saw the results first-hand. Lyle Hanna and Lynn Ingmire set the tone by stating this was “just the beginning, the start of a conversation around the hiring difficulties and we need to have a collective voice to make change happen”.
Dan Ash and Bridgett Strickler of The Graduate! Network presented the results. Dan shared that the economic outlook in Kentucky is good with 81% of the respondents expect their companies to experience moderate growth in the next 3-5 years. However, most indicated that hiring qualified workers is difficult. The jobs are there, but not the skilled workers to fill the jobs. Dan also shared that employers in Kentucky are not partnering with education, the percentage being well below the national average. The good news is that 73% of respondents say they are interested in future partnerships with education institutions.
The program lead into a panel discussion with Dave Adkisson, President of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Beth Kuhn, Commissioner of Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment, Kim Menke, Regional Director of Government Affairs Toyota and Dr. Paul Schreffler, Vice Chancellor Economic Development & Workforce solutions, KCTCS. The main message that was gleaned from the discussion – “We Need Change” – we need to move away from “We have a problem” , pointing fingers at each other and saying “What are You going to do about it” to a solutions-based partnership.
Some solutions discussed – Companies need to create more work-based learning opportunities for not only adult workers but high schoolers and even middle schoolers, helping them begin to envision a career path. This can be done with high-school internships, scholarships, tuition deferments or tuition advances for current workers, and flexible work schedules to allow for a more successful learning experience.
Hal Heiner, Secretary of Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Center, closed the morning session by asking employers to be more open to high school internships and apprenticeships and he ask that employers open their doors to middle school students get them exposed to their companies. He announced that Kentucky is dedicating resources to adult retraining, offering work-ready scholarships to first-time college bound students (25 years or older), offering them the first 32 college credit hours free – leading to an associate’s degree. His second announcement was Medicaid Expansion changes that include a new requirement to be eligible for the waiver, adults must work at least 20 hours per month – putting more eligible workers back to work.