Local CEOs battling workforce crisis — KCTCS 12-year plan looks to offer solutions

A story in Tuesday’s paper about the Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s Plan for a Competitive Commonwealth that was unveiled Monday night at Bowling Green Technical College reports what can be described as an ambitious plan by KCTCS President Dr. Michael McCall to increase the number of students enrolled in the state’s community colleges between now and 2020, with the ultimate intention of having more workforce- and higher education-ready Kentuckians across the state and an economy that will be more competitive with other states.

The plan can be found online here.

In the course of putting together this plan, McCall consulted CEOs all over Kentucky, asking them about the economic and workforce challenges they face now and must contend with over the next decade.

The main concerns for the next five years expressed by business leaders include locating qualified employees, dealing with increasing health care costs and ensuring that the state’s educational system is effective and affordable.

Add to those concerns that of a declining workforce overall.

According to projections released in 2005 by the U.S. Census Bureau, Kentucky’s working age population (defined as ages 25-44) will decline by eight percent from 2000 to 2025, while citizens 65 years and older will increase their numbers by more than 64 percent.

This demographic trend has business leaders understandably concerned that the working-age population will have received enough training and education to perform the nursing, teaching, information technology and other essential jobs on which many rely.

Twenty-four Barren River area CEOs, representing the health care, manufacturing and skilled trade industries, participated in the dialogue sessions with McCall.

Among the local findings recorded in McCall’s report, “In the Eye of the Storm: Confronting Kentucky’s Looming Workforce Crisis”, were these:

— The 24 participating local leaders think the top economic development issues facing Kentucky currently are offering competitive tax incentives to capture new companies, available and affordable health care and meeting global competition challenges.

— The health care, automotive and manufacturing industries, in that order, were considered the most important to the region’s current economic success. Meanwhile, health care, education and manufacturing currently face the most significant workforce development challenges.

— Over the next three years, Barren River CEOs believe the top challenges facing the region’s business and industry are a lack of a sufficient pool of qualified workers, escalating health care costs and growing and diversifying the industrial base.

— The top seven occpational areas in which Kentucky faces the most severe shortages, in the eyes of the 24 local CEOs consulted for McCall’s study, were medical technical professions, skilled manufacturing, mechanical and other engineers, information technology, teaching, nursing and industrial maintenance technicians.

— The top three operational obstacles impacting competitive efforts are, in order, limited work ethic/employee loyalty, increasing costs of material and supplies and recruitment of qualified employees.

— The top three challenges to building a next generation of Kentucky community leaders are, in order, the lack of a formalized program to recruit and train new leaders, building a committed workforce with a strong work ethic and teaching community above self in schools.

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One Response to Local CEOs battling workforce crisis — KCTCS 12-year plan looks to offer solutions

  1. THomas says:

    Incredible statements. Incredibly short-sighted, that is. These local CEO’s have little, if any, knowledge of business outside of this area and can offer no real solutions to what is needed in this area.

    Operational obstacles; emloyee loyalty/limited work ethic. You’ve got to be kidding me! Hey, guess what Mr CEO 2007, the gig is up! Employee loyalty/work ethics are words of yesteryear. Employees of today know that companies are not committed to their employees and have zero loyalty to the employee.

    The loyalty of today’s CEO is to money. Whether it be in the form of operating margins, net profits, bonuses, salary, etc.; money equals loyalty. CEO pay and perks continue to increase while the average employee is given a 1-3 % merit increase.

    These so-called task forces created to encourage employees to relaocate to the BG are also a joke. Example: An Oracle DBA can easily make in excess of $100K in Nashville, Atlanta, NC, Memphis, Cincy, etc. and yet, local leaders think they can attract technology folks here for $40K a year becasue of the outstanding way of life BG has to offer. Oh, God, please.

    Guess what local leaders, BG is a boring, dirty under-educated little Interstate destination. A good place to stop and get gas on your way to somewhere else. BG has nothing/very little to offer. It’s still a small little redneck town like it was when I left here 30 years ago because, guess what, it was the same then as it is now. There is very little culture or art, WKU and the city seem to be at a total disconnect and offer little interaction, local business support is doomed in lieu of big-chain brokers, old money still rules, and so on.

    In my opinion, KY does not have a workforce crisis and what little alarm exist can easily be overcame by offering a true living wage, offer better working conditions, get rid of the ‘slaveowner’ mentality, and please, seek some outside counsel when comes to planning the city/county long term development. If you haven’t lived world-class, you’ll never be able to create it.

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