Second chance programs that help address Kentucky’s workforce needs highlighted at press conference

At a press conference Monday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear discussed second chance employment efforts in partnership with the Kentucky Chamber and detailed how critical this work is to move Kentucky forward. 

The state has partnered with the Kentucky Chamber Foundation on the prison-to-work pipeline program to ensure the Commonwealth is not only meeting its workforce needs but also helping ensure a safer and more successful state. 

Every year in Kentucky, there are an estimated 300,000 people released from jail. And about one in three recidivate – commit a crime or technical violation and return to incarceration.

Gov. Beshear noted that a good-paying job is key to cutting down these statistics and ensuring those returning to their communities have a better chance at success. 

To accomplish this, the partnership with the Chamber Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management program has recruited over 35,000 fair chance jobs for individuals returning home from incarceration or treatment for substance use disorder.

“Through our shared efforts to develop talent pipelines, we are working with employers in Kentucky’s key industries to promote growth-oriented careers that are in high demand to those coming out of treatment or incarceration,” Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts said. “For example, we set up a skilled trade training program for inmates coming out of Blackburn Correctional Facility and helped linked them to employment once they completed the training.”

The partnership, which began in 2018, started as a pilot program and will now be expanded to all corrections facilities statewide. 

“This program contributes to a lower recidivism rate which is a win for everyone because of less spending on incarceration, less crime, and a safer Kentucky where we are rebuilding families. The benefits echo through generations and the successes we will see with this partnership will not only benefit employers who need workers in a booming Kentucky economy but also individuals looking for hope for themselves and their families,” Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey said.

Additionally, the Beshear administration announced Monday they will launch a new virtual learning program for inmates to learn interview skills to help them secure meaningful employment. 

“We are working on all fronts to boost our workforce, and we know we have people who are ready to work,” Beshear said. 

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Jacqueline Pitts
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