A new breed of apprenticeship program

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Those looking to work in the horse industry have a new path in Kentucky

Kentucky is recognized as a leader in the horse industry and Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) is known for equine studies. That helped lead to the early success of the Horse Trainer (Horseman) Apprenticeship.

In 2020, the horse care apprenticeship program was registered with the Kentucky and U.S. Departments of Labor to train those interested in working in the horse industry. The program came at an opportune time. H-2B visas had historically been critical to Kentucky’s equine industry workforce, but those visas had been suspended in the United States.

The apprenticeship encompasses 2,000 hours of carefully employer structured competencies during which an apprentice can attain industry-recognized skills needed to successfully begin or continue a career in any horse related industry sub-sector, such as racing, breeding and showing.

BCTC has been involved from the start, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) is providing assistance through its apprenticeship support program developed to help employers manage their apprenticeships. BCTC and KCTCS help with recruitment, mentorship, administrative services, compliance and more.

Through BCTC’s program, two Locust Trace career and technical education high school students are employed as horse trainer apprentices earning paychecks, college credit, and valuable hands-on work experience. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, students earn an industry certification issued by the U.S. Labor Department, as well as a foundation for an associate degree and their career.

New partnerships will expand the BCTC program. Magdalena Farm, a division of Kenneth McPeek’s McPeek Racing, and Wainui Farm will join Locust Trace AgriScience Center and BCTC Workforce Solutions to offer registered apprenticeship opportunities.

Students get a hands-on experience that makes the workplace their classroom. One high school apprentice stated, “It doesn’t even feel like I’m working because I enjoy it so much!”

Learn more about BCTC’s program here.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.