House committee passes legislation to help historically untapped talent in Kentucky’s workforce

Ensuring underrepresented groups in the workforce get the training and assistance they need to attain meaningful employment in Kentucky made its way through committee Wednesday morning.

House Concurrent Resolution 50, sponsored by Rep. Nima Kulkarni, would establish the Workforce Innovation Task Force to conduct a review of current education and workforce development programs and provide recommendations on how to provide effective workforce development to facilitate the training and employment of historically untapped workforce populations in the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President Kate Shanks testified alongside Kulkarni in favor of the legislation, noting data shows Kentucky will need to add 130,000 individuals to the workforce by 2027 in order to meet the growing demand. Shanks said some of this will be done by attracting new population to the state but that the state must focus on supporting and utilizing existing Kentuckians who are underrepresented in the workforce.

“When I first read this resolution, I immediately thought about some of the conversations I have had with business leaders and board members about how we can better engage and recruit individuals who aren’t as readily tapped for work, or how can we better understand the barriers they face. Specifically, I’ve had member discuss engaging people with disabilities, veterans, people who have retired but may want to return to the workforce but under certain conditions,” Shanks said.

Other groups Kulkarni said the task force would focus on individuals from rural areas, legal immigrants, Kentuckians with lower levels of literacy, and more.

Explaining his yes vote, Rep. Al Gentry, who’s arm was severely damaged and amputated above the elbow following a work accident, said presenting an opportunity for someone who is disabled or in another disadvantaged group to accomplish something on their own makes a difference and doing that in the workforce environment is critical.

House Concurrent Resolution 50 passed the committee unanimously and now moves to the House floor.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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