Kentucky has 134,000 open jobs and that number is expected to increase. The state’s Labor Cabinet and Education and Workforce Development Cabinet have been turning to apprenticeships to bridge the gap between skilled jobs and workers.
Education and Workforce Development Secretary Derrick Ramsey said in order to fill those jobs; all hands have to be on deck. He said that means apprenticeship programs for students, encouraging people leaving the military to stay in Kentucky, and giving the incarcerated population a second chance.
“There’s another group out there, the adult education group. Roughly 347,000 people in our Commonwealth do not have a GED or high school equivalent. Well, we’ve got to change that,” Ramsey told WKU Public Radio.
Ramsey said the minimum wage also needs to be increased, and he’s encouraging employers hosting apprenticeships to start at a minimum of $11.25 an hour. The current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. He’s encouraging students across the commonwealth to participate in apprenticeships. He said the appropriate compensation is different across the state, because cost of living is different.
“On this end of the Commonwealth 15 dollars isn’t a bad number. Well, I was just in Northern Kentucky, 15 dollars, 16 dollars an hour you can barely make it,” Ramsey said.
Secretary Ramsey said finding enough skilled workers over the next 20 to 30 years is going to be a problem. He added there are about 6,000 Kentucky soldiers that transition back into civilian life each year, and he hopes to encourage more of them to stay in the Commonwealth.