Expanding employer-led efforts to improve the quality of state workforce programs and the results they produce will be a key focus of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, a new initiative of the state’s leading business association.
The launch of the Workforce Center, set for late January, is the result of extensive planning and research that confirmed the critical need for greater private-sector involvement in the development of workforce policies and programs, said Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson.
“Employers across Kentucky – and across the nation – recognize the urgent need to address the challenges that are holding us back from building a globally competitive workforce,” Adkisson said. “Meaningful employer involvement is key to achieving this goal, and we believe the Workforce Center will create and sustain that involvement.
The Workforce Center is supported by a $316,800 grant from USA Funds, a national nonprofit organization that focuses on improved student outcomes, employer engagement in ensuring education quality, innovative approaches to college and career preparation, and streamlining key transitions along the path through education and training to careers.
“Productive partnerships involving employers, educators and workforce program providers are critical to ensuring better outcomes for students, better jobs for workers and a stronger workforce for employers,” noted Derek Redelman, Vice President, Research & Policy, USA Funds. “The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center will provide important leadership in building those partnerships to better meet the educational and employment needs of individuals, businesses and the state as a whole.”
Beth Davisson will serve as executive director of the Workforce Center. Davisson has been Director of Career Services for Health and Medical Programs at Sullivan University since 2013 and was the 2016 president and executive director of the Louisville Society for Human Resource Management.
She received a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Strategic Communication from the University of Kentucky and a Master of Business Administration from Sullivan University.
Davisson is creator and leader of “Bridging the Talent Gap,” a workforce development program designed to identify talent gaps in the Louisville community; serves on the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management (KYSHRM) state council; and received the KYSHRM Lyle Hannah Spirit Award for 2016. She also has been recognized by Business First (“Top Business Leaders under 40” in 2016 and “Top 20 People to Know in Human Resources” in 2014).
“Workforce will remain a key issue all across Kentucky and the nation for the foreseeable future, and who better to lead this conversation than Kentucky’s business community?” Davisson said. “Businesses throughout the Commonwealth are unable to grow without the right talent in place, and the Kentucky Chamber’s new Workforce Center demonstrates our dedication to preparing Kentucky’s workforce and to building a thriving economy.”
The Workforce Center will target the following areas:
- Business Leadership to represent the interests of the employer community in partnership efforts with the Governor and administration officials. The focus will be on aligning education, workforce and economic development at the policy and service-delivery levels.
- Network Development and Support to assist employers who serve on state and local workforce boards or participate in other workforce efforts. Information sharing, peer-to-peer communications and other supportive efforts will focus on ensuring consistency and collaboration across the state.
- Industry Collaboratives to build on the KY FAME model to bring together employers and workforce educators to define skill needs and create collaborative programs that provide sector-specific training opportunities for students and workers. (The KY FAME collaborative has gained national recognition for its focus on advanced manufacturing careers.)
- Effectively Using Data to determine the actual impact and outcomes of workforce training and development programs.
- Essential Skill Initiatives to address what employers identify as a critical problem with many workers – the lack of such basic personal management skills as showing up for work, communicating and getting along with colleagues and taking responsibility.
In addition to addressing Kentucky’s workforce challenges, business leaders note that the center offers an opportunity to create a model that could be replicated by business associations across the country.
“This groundbreaking initiative by the Kentucky Chamber recognizes the critical importance of meaningful employer involvement in the development of workforce policies and programs,” said Jason Tyszko, executive director of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
“We look forward to working with the Chamber as it builds its Workforce Center into a model for creating employer-led, public-private partnerships to strengthen the talent pipeline that is so critical to ensuring economic growth and prosperity.”