Addressing workforce needs will be a legislative priority, state Sen. Givens says

After legislation to bring oversight to the state’s workforce training programs stalled in the General Assembly last year, state Senator David Givens says he is ready to re-introduce his initiative and ensure that workforce needs of the state are addressed.

Givens explained that Senate Concurrent Resolution 103, which he introduced during the 2015 session, would direct the General Assembly to establish a Kentucky Workforce Oversight Task Force to study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments and funding of workforce education in the state.

The resolution will be introduced again in the 2016 legislative session with some improvements, Givens told the Kentucky Chamber.

“When you take a look at the way we spend that $900 million and then you take a look at research that says in the year 2020 we are going to miss the target, meaning two-thirds of the opportunities in workforce are going to be for students with some post-secondary education and only about 50 percent of those applicants will actually have the credentials they need to fulfill those jobs,” Givens said. “So if we are spending $900 million and we’re going to miss the target, we need to take a look at how we spend that money and that’s going to be the focus of the legislation.”

Citing the Kentucky Chamber’s recently released workforce report, Givens said the report is a great foundation to begin a conversation on the issue and the areas of need including soft skills, certifications and others.

As for how the business community, education community and legislature come together to find a solution to these issues, Givens he believes the Kentucky Chamber has a huge role to play in that area.

“The role of the state Chamber is to galvanize all these groups to come together to provide a venue for us to have those conversations and then to occasionally kick us and say ‘you’re not moving fast enough.’ And I am excited about the business community making their voice heard through the state Chamber,” Givens said (at 3:00).

Givens noted that more than $200 million of the state’s general fund is spent on workforce training annually and said because of the way the current model is experiencing flaws, he would like to see performance-based funding for higher education. The Council on Post-Secondary Education has stated it will seek funds tied to performance in the next budget and the Kentucky Chamber has advocated for any new money going to the universities be based on performance.

Overall, Givens said the conversation about workforce needs has a broad and significant impact.

“If we can get the right people with the right skills in the right job, a lot of our revenue concerns in this state will diminish. Because we will have a larger tax base, we’ll have more profitable corporations and we will be able to recruit and grow business and industry in Kentucky. Because when you talk to economic development people, the workforce is the critical component to recruiting business and industry,” Givens said (at 6:30).

Hear more from Sen. David Givens on workforce in the interview below:

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Jacqueline Pitts
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