FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 27, 2017) – Gov. Matt Bevin, Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey, Economic Development Secretary Terry Gill, and Education and Workforce Development Secretary Hal Heiner joined a delegation of U.S. officials and business leaders on an apprenticeship study visit in Germany and Switzerland last week.
Hosted by the National Governors Association (NGA), the trip provided insight into how those countries use apprenticeship models to train their workforces and further develop their economies.
“The key building blocks of a robust economy and job growth are education and workforce development,” said Gov. Bevin. “Apprenticeships are a powerful tool for training and developing workers for the advanced manufacturing jobs of today. Kentucky is on track to become the engineering and manufacturing center of excellence in America. To fulfill this vision, we must study existing best practices from around the world. I was grateful for the opportunity to do exactly that on this trip with NGA.”
The Kentucky delegation met with policy makers and local business representatives at the U.S. Embassies in Berlin and Bern. The trip also featured site visits to manufacturing facilities and local schools to focus on health care, advanced manufacturing, rail industry, and technical informatics.
“The apprenticeship training model has deep roots in Europe’s industrial history,” said Sec. Ramsey. “Being able to study the effects of apprenticeships on these economies firsthand provided us with innovative ideas on ways to better equip Kentucky’s workforce. Kentucky’s economy already features prominent German and Swiss-born companies, and I enjoyed discussing ways we can continue to strengthen our partnership and promote our ‘Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built’ campaign worldwide.”
Launched in September of last year, the “Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built” initiative signals Kentucky’s recommitment of new energy and resources toward strengthening apprenticeships across Kentucky. Currently, there are 2,772 apprentices working in 165 different registered trades across nearly 1,100 employers.
“In our conversations with employers across the Commonwealth—whether they be manufacturers, tech-related companies or in the service sector—executives tell us they need more employees who are trained specifically for their company’s needs,” said Sec. Gill. “We’re fortunate to have apprenticeship programs already established in Kentucky and, as part of this trip, we identified best practices and ways to expand our efforts through ‘Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.’ By further partnering with our corporate citizens and educational institutions to keep the Kentucky workforce pipeline trained at world-class levels, we’ll meet the needs of individual businesses and grow the state’s economy.”
Apprenticeship programs in the U.S. typically range from one to five years in length, but the majority of programs are four years long. For each year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will receive about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a required minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction. The Labor Cabinet works with each company to craft a customized curriculum that is specific to each employer’s needs. At the completion of the training program, the apprentice receives a nationally recognized certification.
“We are in a workforce crisis in this state, and this mission to Germany and Switzerland offered innovative ideas for creating apprenticeships and other certification programs. Our goal is to better equip our students and adults with the skills needed to fill the great jobs that are open and drive our economy,” said Sec. Heiner.
European-owned companies operate more than 200 facilities in Kentucky, employing nearly 33,000 people full time across all sectors of the economy. Between January 2016 and February 2017, European-owned companies announced 26 projects in Kentucky. Those are expected to create nearly 1,100 jobs and about $418 million in investment. That accounts for more than five percent of all new jobs and over eight percent of investment dollars announced in Kentucky during the same period.
The Commonwealth is home to 74 German-owned facilities, which span industries including automotive, tech, raw materials, logistics, media, chemical production and others. Collectively, German-owned companies employ about 13,500 Kentuckians full-time. From January 2016 through February 2017, German-owned companies announced five projects in Kentucky. Those will bring nearly $45 million in investment and more than 300 full-time jobs.
Swiss-owned companies operate 19 facilities in Kentucky, employing a total of 2,700 people full-time. Those include providers of crushed limestone, automotive interior and acoustic products, analytical testing, food, beverages, flavorings and logistics services. From January 2016 through February 2017, Swiss-owned firms announced three projects in Kentucky. Those are expected to create more than 50 jobs and nearly $87 million in investment.
For more information on apprenticeships in Kentucky, visit KentuckyApprenticeship.com.
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The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.