Getting work-ready

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A scholarship program in Kentucky aims to quickly train people for in-demand jobs.

In Kentucky, employers continue to struggle to find skilled employees. The Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship (WRKS) program aims to close that skills gap.

Kentucky has one of the lowest educational attainment rates in the country at 49.1% (national average is 51.3%). The state has a goal of getting to 60% by 2030. Workforce participation in Kentucky also is low: 58.8% vs. a 62.4% national average. That hurts the state’s ability to attract and retain businesses.

Through WRKS, students can earn up to 60 credits tuition-free in five in-demand fields: healthcare, manufacturing, construction/trades, logistics, business or IT. Programs can take less than four months to complete. The scholarship is open to any Kentucky residents who has not already earned an associate degree.

If a person hasn’t already earned a high school diploma or GED, they can take advantage of GED Plus. That program allows people to earn both their GED and college credential simultaneously.

The Kentucky Community & Technical College System is an educational provider for the program, along with several other colleges and universities throughout the state.

The face of the WRKS campaign is Brian Scott – better known by his stage name B.Stille from the multi-platinum selling group Nappy Roots. He went back to college and finished his degree in 2019.

The scholarship program is fueled by the Kentucky Lottery.

Other states have started similar programs. Michigan’s Futures for Frontliners scholarship has had about 85,000 applicants since its launch in September. The Re-Employing Virginians (REV) initiative helps current and future students cover the cost of tuition and fees in fields that will lead to careers. Residents who are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19 can receive up to $3,000 for short-term training or certification programs.

What is your state doing to get people reskilled for the workforce? Sound off at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.