Resolution to evaluate Kentucky’s workforce development programs passes Senate committee

A resolution to help ensure Kentucky’s workforce development programs are performing at the highest possible levels to address the Commonwealth’s ongoing workforce issues passed out of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor committee on Tuesday.

During the committee meeting, Kentucky Chamber Director of Public Affairs John Cox testified alongside Senator Wil Schroder in support of Senate Concurrent Resolution 168, which directs the Legislative Research Commission hire a consultant or group of experts to evaluate the hundreds of millions of dollars the state spends each year to fund workforce education and development programs across the state. The group would also gather and analyze data, research trends, and study economic issues to tackle Kentucky’s issues relating to workforce.

The Commonwealth’s workforce struggles did not begin at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Cox said. The Kentucky Chamber released a report last year, “20 Years in the Making: Kentucky’s Workforce Crisis,” which showed Kentucky’s workforce participation rate has consistently been below the nationwide average for the last 20 years.

This resolution is one of the many recommendations provided in the Chamber’s report to help address the causes that have contributed to Kentucky’s workforce issues, which include education and skills gaps, early retirement, child care challenges, the opioid epidemic, and more.

Currently, there is no statutory mechanism requiring that we look into this workforce programming. Cox said it is important to find out whether Kentucky is getting a sound return on investment, spending enough money on programs, and focusing efforts in the right places.

With this resolution, “Kentucky’s education and workforce systems, the business community, and lawmakers are all working toward the same goal of improving educational attainment, increasing workforce participation, and ensuring all Kentuckians are able to reach their full potential,” said Cox.

The study and its findings required by this resolution would be reported to the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment and to the Legislative Research Commission by December 1, 2022.

This resolution moves on to the full Senate for a vote.

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