Representatives from the Kentucky Chamber and the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center highlighted the importance of having a healthy and skilled workforce for all aspects of the state’s growth and pointed to current efforts and legislative priorities in the Interim Joint Committee on Small Business and Technology meeting on Thursday.
Kentucky Chamber Director of Political Affairs Travis Burton told lawmakers the business community is focused on ensuring Kentucky is competitive by working toward accomplishing legislative goals like continued improvements to the tax code, infrastructure investment, and more. Burton also noted it is crucial to prioritize the quality of the state’s workforce by strengthening adult and early childhood education as well as ensuring better health outcomes.
Along with legislative efforts to strengthen the workforce, Burton noted that the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center is entering its 3rd year of work expanding employer involvement in the development of workforce programs and now has also expanded into work to address the state’s drug epidemic.
Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center Executive Director Beth Davisson also testified in front of the committee to demonstrate the work being done across the state to improve the workforce and better meet the needs of businesses.
Davisson noted that through the Talent Pipeline Management initiative, the Workforce Center brings together employers of different sectors to define shared needs in order to find strong solutions. Hundreds of employers are now participating in industry collaboratives that are up and running across the state within sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, construction, equine, and other areas.
She also expanded on the work being done to tackle the state’s opioid epidemic with the Opioid Response for Business program, which aims to help employers review and revamp their human resource policies to better handle addiction problems in the workplace and identify employers that are willing to provide second chance employment. Two employment specialists hired through the program are working with employers across the state to combat the opioid crisis.
Lawmakers on the panel applauded the work being done by the business community in these areas and asked questions about how to continue work in the critical areas of strengthening education programs and work to cut down on incarceration for low-level drug offenses and instead ensure individuals are able to enter the workforce and be successful.