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Get In, Get Out and Get to Work with KCTCS

By Jay Box

There's a new way for Kentuckians to earn college credit tuition free. The new Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship pays for up to 32 hours for programs in five in-demand business sectors.

The 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) offer numerous programs in these fields, which are health care, advanced manufacturing, transportation/logistics, business services/information technology and construction/trades. Many of these programs can be completed in four months or less and can lead to careers that pay higher salaries than some requiring a bachelor's degree.

It's no secret Kentucky employers have many jobs that go unfilled because they cannot find qualified workers. In fact, Kentucky's workforce participation rate is 47th in the country (57.6 percent vs. the U.S. average of 62.7 percent) and Kentucky businesses are clamoring for educated workers to fill jobs. This scholarship is designed to connect the needs of employers with the needs of Kentuckians.

"We appreciate Gov. Bevin and Sec. Heiner's commitment to elevating educational attainment in Kentucky and believe this scholarship is a great step toward helping thousands of Kentuckians improve their lives," said KCTCS President Jay K. Box. "It provides a terrific opportunity for people who want to get in, get out and get to work quickly."

Anyone who has not yet earned a college degree of any type is eligible for free tuition toward earning a certificate or diploma in one of the five sectors. There are no income or age limits to qualify. The only educational requirement to apply is a high school diploma or GED. Prospective students must first apply for federal financial aid before they are eligible to apply for the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship.

For more information on KCTCS programs that qualify for the WRKS, visit

Workforce Survey Results Show Projected Job Growth, Need for More Skilled Workers

The results from the Bridging the Talent Gap survey are in and projections for Kentucky business expansion and job growth look good. On the downside, employers surveyed said there aren't enough skilled workers to fill those jobs.

There are numerous issues at play when it comes to finding the right talent to fill job openings. For example, an average of 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day in the U.S. Another barrier to educational attainment is the perception that there's little value to higher education.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) recently conducted its own statewide research with 3,000 Kentuckians. Findings show the majority of adults surveyed who had little to no postsecondary education are not interested in taking college classes. This cultural issue is a key reason Kentucky is 47th in workforce participation.

Dr. Paul Schreffler, KCTCS vice chancellor for economic development and Workforce Solutions, served on a panel for the unveiling of the Bridging the Talent Gap survey results. He said changing culture is a long process and compared it to the country's attitudes toward smoking.

"Years ago, this conference room would've been filled with ashtrays, and we would've thought nothing about people smoking during the event," Schreffler said. "Today, we laugh about it, but it truly has been a cultural change that was years in the making. The same will be true in changing attitudes about the need for postsecondary education."

Some other findings from the Bridging the Talent Gap survey revealed:
  • Respondents said the economic outlook in their community was positive.
  • Manufacturing, healthcare and professional/scientific and technical services are the job sectors that project the most job growth.
  • Government and agriculture were the sectors projecting the smallest amount of growth.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents said they needed workers with certificates in their fields, the same number as those who said they needed employees with bachelor's degrees.
  • Although many employers offer tuition assistance, 71 percent said their employees are not taking advantage of it because they said they don't have time.
KCTCS, Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management (KYSHM) and the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics (KCEWS) sponsored the survey, which received responses from nearly 1,100 businesses. To see the full Bridging the Talent Gap survey results, visit

Express Enrollment Week Aims to Recruit and Retain Students

The 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System just completed a weeklong event to drive fall enrollment. Express Enrollment is a statewide event for all community and technical colleges to help with one-on-one advising regarding enrollment, financial aid, scheduling and other items that prospective students need to complete for the fall semester. Additionally, if a student had not taken a required test, that could be scheduled as well.

The goal is to make the enrollment process as simple and fast as possible. Some students were able to complete the process during their advising session.

"We know many of our prospective students are anxious about college, but we want to relieve that anxiety and make enrolling as easy as possible," said KCTCS President Jay K. Box. "By simplifying this first important step, more students are likely to take advantage of the affordable opportunities KCTCS has to offer."

Express Enrollment has ended, but it's not too late to enroll. Prospective students can visit

This story was posted on 2017-07-10 08:48:17
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