KAED Talking Points
6:00 p.m. July 30, 2015
Holiday Inn University Plaza, Bowling Green
Good evening. I would like to thank Hal Goode and KAED for inviting me to join you for this event.
I know this group has a vision for Kentucky to grow and thrive in this global economy, and I want you to know that KCTCS joins you in the effort, as we work to provide a college-educated workforce that is ready and able to fill the needs of local business and industry.
We serve more than 127-thousand students annually, who come to our colleges with dreams of earning a college credential, getting a good job and creating a better life for themselves and their families.
When a graduate achieves those dreams, we can all celebrate that success, because better jobs lead to a stronger economy for our Commonwealth.
KCTCS is the largest provider of postsecondary education and workforce development in the state.
Last year our 16 colleges provided training in nearly all 120 Kentucky counties.
We worked with more than 5,500 companies, trained nearly 50,000 employees and administered close to 85,000 workplace assessments.
We are in the business of supporting Kentucky businesses! To understand the important role KCTCS plays in our economy, I’d like to share three of our areas of focus with you tonight:
• The economic impact of education
• The changing needs of employers
• And the power of business partnerships
Let’s start with the economic impact that comes when our students earn a credential.
We know that college graduates at all levels earn better wages compared to those who have not earned a credential.
Kentuckians with an associate degree see on average a $245,000 increase in lifetime earnings.
We see the strongest returns in healthcare, trades and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) fields with average annual salaries of around $50,000 within five years of completion.
In a recent report from the National Center of Higher Education Management Systems, NCHEMS, KCTCS was recognized as a national leader in the use of data to track the employment of graduates.
NCHEMS also noted that we are the only known postsecondary institution developing and using this data to determine future program offerings in high wage, high demand fields.
This helps us align our more than 700 career related programs with industries that are growing, have jobs to fill, and will pay our graduates a good wage.
And since so many of our students have chosen to stay close to home, and we evaluate programs by college service area these opportunities allow graduates to live and work in their own communities, contributing to the local economy!
The heart of our mission at KCTCS is serving students through education and employability, but we can only do that by connecting with area businesses and employers.
And I want to give you a little more insight into how we are taking your input and using it to develop our next KCTCS strategic plan.
I don’t have to tell you how quickly business needs are changing. But I will tell you that when businesses tell us what they want in employees, WE LISTEN.
This past spring I traveled the state, stopping at all of our colleges from Prestonsburg to Paducah, on a statewide listening tour to begin our strategic planning process for 2016- 2022.
Because our Strategic Plan will be what drives our entire institution for the next 6 years, it is vitally important that it was designed through a process that includes input from across not just KCTCS, but the entire state that we serve.
So we engaged not only faculty, staff and students in the process; but also business leaders and organizations, local and state elected officials, K-12 and four-year education partners and anyone who could partner with us to ensure the academic and economic success of our great commonwealth.
What I heard is that there are jobs that need to be filled in key industries, that there are skills employers desperately seek in job candidates, and there are some voids in training and education that we at KCTCS are ready and willing to fill.
And something important to know about the KCTCS Strategic Plan is that this is not just a plan for our colleges and our students, it is a plan that we’re developing in concert with organizations like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Council on Postsecondary Education so we have a collaborative vision for the academic AND economic future of Kentucky.
What I also heard loud and clear from the hundreds of participants in the listening tour sessions is that KCTCS is clearly positioned as a partner for Kentucky’s workforce.
Since our inception in 1998, KCTCS has embraced its mission to be the primary provider of workforce education and training for Kentucky.
With more than 70 campuses that are within a 30 minute drive of nearly every Kentuckian, we are able to offer these opportunities to all of our communities.
And with our statewide presence, we can establish key partnerships that will be mutually beneficial for educators and employers.
We are able to align the skills needed in the workplace with our programs through partnerships with Aligning Workforce and Economic Development Systems (AWEDS), KCTCS-TRAINS and the Kentucky Skills Network.
With this collaboration Kentucky is positioning itself for better recruitment and retention of business and industry.
KCTCS has, for many years, maintained a close relationship with the manufacturing community and the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers.
The KCTCS partnership with KY FAME (The Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education) helps to support our overarching commitment to provide career pathways designed to prepare students for employment and advancement in targeted jobs of importance in local communities.
This unique apprentice-style, or as we like to call it, “work-and-learn” model has gained national recognition for its innovative weekly schedule of two days in class and three days working for a partner company like Ford, Toyota, 3M and Linkbelt.
All while students are earning college credits and a paycheck at the same time, positioning many of them to graduate debt-free!
Another great example of partnerships that strengthen the workforce are our lineman programs, which offer apprenticeship level learning for much needed positions in the power industry.
This program was developed when industry leaders noted many Journeyman Linemen were approaching retirement age and there was a great shortage of qualified entry-level candidates to take their place.
In a matter of months graduates are trained and skilled to head straight to work making great wages.
We are also a proud partner with SOAR, and five of our colleges in the eastern region of the state are working to promote a computer and information technology (CIT) track that prepares students to design, develop and maintain computer programs, with an emphasis on coding careers.
Business and industry leaders in the region have cited the critical need for skilled CIT workers. They are currently forced to outsource the work to other areas of the country and outside the U.S.
Those are jobs we want to keep in Kentucky!
Another focus of the participating KCTCS colleges will be to help SOAR communities foster local entrepreneurship.
It is predicted that most new jobs in the region will be created by entrepreneurs, and KCTCS currently serves as both a leader and catalyst for assisting fledgling businesses with their training and professional development needs.
We know, now more than ever, our business and education partnerships will make or break the future of our state. And this is a crucial time for higher education. There is great concern that college costs are rising.
There are students who are falling deep in debt and slipping through the cracks.
I am proud that this year our board voted to freeze tuition for the 2015-16 academic year, and we are the only public college doing so.
Even as our fixed operating costs increase we could not continue to ask our students to bear that burden.
It is time for Kentucky to get serious about funding higher education.
At KCTCS we have seen state budget cuts totaling $38.5 million dollars since 2007-2008.
This funding decline is impacting our ability to provide Kentuckians with the higher education opportunities they deserve.
In fact, a recent report released from the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) reveals that compared to other states in this region Kentucky’s two-year institutions are significantly underfunded.
KCTCS colleges received 36% less public funds per student compared to the U.S. average, and 29% less public funds per student compared to the average of contiguous states.
Our citizens deserve better. So this year I will be asking our state legislature to invest in Kentucky’s future, by properly funding higher education and investing in our future workforce.
And I hope you will join me in sending that message. We cannot say we want economic growth and business opportunity if we are not supporting education and training programs that will produce a skilled workforce, recruit top companies and foster entrepreneurship.
If education pays, that comes at a price, not only for our students, but also our institutions. Education is the opportunity our citizens need.
An educated workforce is what our businesses need.
Economic opportunity is what our commonwealth needs.
And we are proud to be a partner in this effort. Thank you.