Education reform package seeks to improve workforce and economic competitiveness, Holliday says

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday wants to see a new set of reforms pushed during the 2016 session with the main goals of making sure Kentucky has a highly skilled workforce, increasing incomes for workers in the state and closing gaps in different regions of the state.

In an interview with the Kentucky Chamber, Holliday explained that the concept, titled “Kentucky Economic Competitiveness Act 2016”, focuses on those three main goals in order to move the state forward.

“Make Kentucky workforce the best in the nation, so we can recruit business and industry and more and direct foreign investment in Kentucky. Second goal would be to raise the average income of Kentucky citizens and we can only do that by them getting more education and getting better jobs. And the third part is to decrease the income inequality gap,” Holliday said, adding that a bill following this concept could achieve those goals.

Holliday said he hopes to see education leaders and groups including the Kentucky Chamber, Prichard Committee, educators and others come together to push for these reforms next year.

When speaking to the Kentucky Chamber’s Education Policy Council, Holliday discussed some of the strategies mentioned in the reform concept including: collaborating with business and industry to define career pathways and defined skills required for success, incentives for businesses to provide work-based learning opportunities, establishing a public-private partnership model to encourage regional solutions and much more.

As for how to make sure students are not only college-ready but also career-ready, Holliday said there is a need for more programs to help prepare students for work in their chosen field at an early age. As an example, Holliday discussed “Project Lead the Way” and said those types of initiatives should be expanded (at 1:00 in the interview below).

“Those kids would be earning college credit all in a career pathway that kids could start getting ready as early as kindergarten,” Holliday said. “And its not a dead end. It would give kids multiple ways to continue their education, to go right to work, and to continue their careers because they would have such a rich academic and career integrated pathway.”

In the face of many cuts to education funding in past budget cycles, Holliday said these types of reforms would not require much new funding but some changes will have to be made in order for students to get the education they need to be ready to enter the workforce (at 2:40 in the interview).

Watch the interview below:

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Jacqueline Pitts
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