On Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced the creation of a new task force focused on helping people find employment and be a part of the workforce.
The 23-member Kentucky Work Matters Task Force created through executive order will seek to draw attention to workforce issues and bring in expertise to come up with creative ideas and solutions to address barriers to employment and promote workforce inclusion among people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, and individuals burdened by substance abuse or criminal records.
Bevin said at the announcement that members of the task force include cabinet secretaries from his administration, legislators from both parties, groups representing people with disabilities, and the business community.
Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center Executive Director Beth Davisson has been appointed by Gov. Bevin to serve on the group to bring the voice of employers to the table.
At the press conference Tuesday, Kentucky Education and Workforce Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner said Kentucky’s workforce shortages and skills gap is the most pressing issue facing his cabinet as not a day goes by that employers in the state don’t express struggles finding workers.
Heiner added the efforts of this task force will not only help grow the state’s economy but also help empower individuals to fulfill their potential in the workforce.
Gov. Bevin invited Kentuckians who have disabilities or employ people with disabilities to participate in the announcement including Little Caesars Pizza franchisee Mike Michalak, Cincinnati Reds batboy Teddy Kremer, and Spalding University men’s golf coaches Michael Carter and Grant Gupton, who testified as to what can be achieved when individuals are given opportunities.
The Kentucky Work Matters Task Force will work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy and their State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED). SEED is a collaborative effort with state intermediary organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and The Council of State Governments (CSG), to help state leaders effectively address policy barriers that may hinder the employment of people with disabilities.
The first meeting of the task force was held Tuesday after the press conference and will continue work in the coming months with the end goal of presenting a final report that will include policy recommendations on improving workforce participation rates for individuals with disabilities, as well as other populations with impediments to employment, across the Commonwealth due in December.
Members of the task force include:
- Adam Meier, deputy chief of staff for Gov. Bevin
• Secretary Scott Brinkman, Executive Cabinet
• Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
• Secretary John Tilley, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
• Secretary Derrick Ramsey, Labor Cabinet
• Secretary Hal Heiner, Education and Workforce Development
• Secretary Tom Stephens, Personnel Cabinet
• Secretary Greg Thomas, Transportation Cabinet
• Vivek Sarin, Cabinet for Economic Development executive officer
• Deputy Commissioner Bryan Hubbard, Division of Income Support
• Buddy Hoskinson, Department for Aging and Independent Living
• Commissioner Beth Kuhn, Department of Workforce Investment
• Commissioner Stephen Pruitt, Department of Education
• President Bob King, Council on Postsecondary Education
• Senator John Schickel
• Senator Robin Webb
• Representative Jim DeCesare
• Representative Arnold Simpson
• Katie Shepherd, Kentucky Supreme Court designee
• Mike Michalak, citizen at-large (Shelbyville)
• Katie Wolf Whaley, citizen at-large (Lexington)
• Beth Davisson, citizen at-large (Louisville)
• Tim McGurk, citizen at-large (Prospect)