In 1992, James Carville helped develop Bill Clinton’s campaign strategies. One of those strategies people still talk about was written on a sticky note: The economy, stupid. This was a note Carville wrote to himself to remind him the team was not focused on one of the most important issues voters were concerned about.
As I’ve thought about 2017 and our priorities, I’m borrowing Carville’s idea and writing a note to myself – It’s about jobs, stupid! Jobs, jobs and more jobs are going unfilled because Kentucky’s workforce does not match employers’ needs. This year, even more emphasis will be on close partnerships between local employers and the community colleges in their area. Our job of educating the workforce has become more important as employers in Kentucky and all around the U.S. seek highly-trained workers.
In Kentucky, we have thousands of people working in low wage jobs who need enhanced skills. We also have thousands who are unemployed. The new Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program provides a good opportunity for those folks, as well as recent high school graduates, to train quickly and improve their earning opportunities. In addition, we will continue our work with local employers to make sure our curriculum is aligned with the top five job sectors outlined in the scholarship program.
That doesn’t mean we’ll take our eyes off of transfer programs. The majority of our students still come to us for transfer. However, I believe focusing on jobs still applies when thinking of transfer students. Here’s why. No matter if we’re preparing someone to enter the workforce quickly or to transfer to a four-year partner, the end goal is for the student to get a top notch education and become employed. Whether that employment is as a teacher, an accountant, a welder or in advanced manufacturing. As Carville knew, it’s all about the economy. For the state’s economy to advance, we must do what we can to help employers. For us, it’s about educating people for jobs.