DRA, Kentucky Economic Leaders: Reimagining Workforce Development is Key to Regional Growth

October 07, 2014

DRA, Kentucky Economic Leaders: Reimagining Workforce Development is Key to Regional Growth Workforce Summits Bring Together Key Stakeholders and Thought Leaders on Workforce Development New $1.7M Investment in Workforce Development Will Build Local Capacity & Strengthen Links between Education, Needed Skills, Workers and Jobs

CADIZ, Ky. – Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill today announced new efforts to re-imagine workforce development initiatives across the region, calling it a necessity to focus on strategies for Kentucky to train workers and connect the hardworking people of the Delta to the jobs of the future. With increasing manufacturing investments into Kentucky by foreign business and $25.3 billion in exports the past year, the DRA and its regional partners are boosting efforts to enhance regional workforce development systems in western Kentucky and other Delta states.

“Just like the flow of the Mississippi River, the Delta economy is constantly changing – and our workforce training needs to change with it. Working with our state, regional, and community partners, we are committed to rethinking how we train our workers and connect our people to jobs of the future,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening our workforce, encouraging lifelong learning, and increasing the standard of living in the region.”

The workforce summit comes just weeks after the Delta Regional Authority and its Board of Governors announced a $1.7 million investment into strengthening and expanding the area’s training programs. The day-long summit featured state and regional leadership from numerous sectors including Kentucky Department of Local Government Commissioner Tony Wilder, Department of Workforce Investment Commissioner Beth Brinley, representatives from Ingram Barge Company and Pella Corporation, local community college presidents as well as other economic, education and industry partners.  

“We know that having a skilled workforce is one of the major attractions for companies in choosing Kentucky,” said Commissioner Wilder, DRA Board Designee for Governor Steve Beshear. “On the local level, investing in training students for 21st century jobs is an important step to continuing our success in economic development in Western Kentucky. DRA’s funding program is an important opportunity for local leadership to get ahead of the pack in creating a competitive and skilled workforce.”

The $1.7 million funding program—known as the Reimagining the Delta Workforce Development Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund—will provide competitive funding to local communities and partnerships to train local leadership in planning and implementing a workforce development system that supports a pipeline of workers trained with skills to acquire jobs available in their community and attract new jobs to the Delta region.

“With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Kentucky’s workforce professionals and partners are being challenged to retool and re-engineer," Workforce Investment Commissioner Brinly. "The resources being made available by the Delta Regional Authority can be a catalyst in that continuous improvement process.”

The series of summits follows the release of the 2013 Report on the Future of the South: Re-imagining Workforce Development. The comprehensive report acknowledges that the recession has amplified challenges in the Delta and identifies an increasingly competitive talent pool, changing life-cycles, and the rapid pace of the global marketplace as the driving forces behind the shifting workplace environment.  

“There has been a major change in the composition of the workforce in the Delta in recent years,” said Ted Abernathy, author of the report Re-imagining Workforce Development and managing partner of Economic Leadership LLC. “The distribution of jobs today is very different than a just a few years ago, and it is not just jobs that are changing but the skills required to do them as well.” 

The report outlines three key recommendations: reimagining readiness, reengaging adult learners and disconnected youth, and realigning relationships and resources. Additional recommendations identified in the report include strengthening the connection between education and job skills, advancing online learning opportunities and certificate programs, and creating a culture of lifelong learning from early childhood through adulthood.  

The Kentucky Workforce Development Summit is part of a series of Reimagining the Delta Workforce summits that are occurring July through October in the eight-state Delta region.  The DRA’s Reimagining the Delta Workforce Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Fund is now accepting applications via funding.dra.gov through November 10, 2014. For more information and the Notice of Funding Availability for the funding program, click here

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Contact: Spencer Lucker
slucker@dra.gov, 202-434-4842