Essential skills education bill will pass in 2018 session, legislative leaders promise

Children in a classroom raising their hands.

As Kentucky employers continue to struggle to find qualified workers to fill jobs in the state, leaders from the House and the Senate tell the Kentucky Chamber a bill to ensure students learn essential skills will pass during the 2018 session.

Essential skills, which many employers identify as the ability for applicants and employees to show up to work on time, the ability to pass a drug test, be dressed properly for an interview and for work, be able to work well on a team, making eye contact, and even a proper handshake, are things many Kentucky business have a hard time finding in individuals.

House Education Chair Bam Carney said he expects an essential skills bill very similar to the one filed by House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell during the 2017 session to make it through the legislative process early next year.

“We are going to pass it,” Carney said. “And that’s going to have to do a lot with the credit of the Chamber and to all the industries in the Commonwealth. Because I’ve not met one industry or manufacturer that hasn’t said ‘essential skills, essential skills, we’ve got to have a trained workforce.’ So, you all have done such a good job of letting it be known what you need that I think there’s no choice, we are going to pass it.”

During the 2017 session, Leader Shell’s bill, which was strongly supported by the Kentucky Chamber, passed easily through the House but did not see passage in the Senate.

Senate President Robert Stivers told The Bottom Line the Senate “without a doubt” has the will to pass the bill in 2018.

“We are very much about making sure individuals have the appropriate skills for various levels of job opportunities. That may occur right out of high school, that may be high school plus some type of technical training, it may be a traditional bachelorette degree. But we are very much in tune with that, and the concept very much in conformity with. It just comes down to the details,” Stivers said.

House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the Senate had some questions about the legislation in the 2017 session but he feels a very similar bill will pass in 2018.

“I do think over the interim, they are beginning to see the need for that and the comfort level is getting better in the Senate. So I don’t think there’s any question we will pass that next session,” Hoover said.

Hear the comments from Senate President Stivers and House Speaker Hoover in the video below:

Rep. Carney said he would like to see attendance be a key component of legislation as he hears from businesses about individuals not being able to show up to work on time. He also discussed the drug testing piece of the bill and said he believes that needs to be a part of the solution as employers struggle to find people who are able to pass a drug test.

Hear House Education Chair Carney’s remarks in the video below:

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Jacqueline Pitts
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