The Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board convened its Workforce Crisis Task Force for its third annual Workforce Summit. The event Monday, held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, gathered 50 business and community leaders together to discuss new ways to support workforce and economic development, challenges faced by employers and job seekers and innovative solutions.
Over the last year, the Work Force Crisis Task Force has engaged 118 business community members, 59 education and training community members, 30 state office representatives and policy makers and 39 community services and organizations.
Members of the task force presented information on meeting community needs in the evolving economic landscape, as well as strategies that will help guide the eight-county region forward and fuel economic success, according to a news release issued following the afternoon meeting.
Key topics included how communities are implementing strategies such as felony expungement, work-based learning and localizing regional workforce goals. Participants were asked to take part in county roundtables and provide insight into ways the task force can better serve workforce needs in the region.
“Because the need for skilled, available workers continues to grow, the task force strives to create new paths for residents to join the workforce,” said board member and task force chairman Jim Rachlin. “This summit allowed us not only to share several innovative ideas developed throughout the year, but also to coordinate and strategize with local leaders on ways to further support workforce success.”
In the Lincoln Trail region, workforce participation is at 60.5 percent, greater than the statewide participation of 59.2 percent, but less than the national rate of 64.2 percent.
The Grow Business Engagement subcommittee works to increase the likelihood for success in employee recruitment and retention across multiple companies.
This year, the Bardstown Nelson County Chamber of Commerce created local subcommittees that mirror the structure within the task force, which has culminated in the creation of the BNCC Workforce Hub, a place to connect all workforce projects and initiatives in Bardstown and Nelson County. This organization of resources has enabled BNCC to better serve its members and is bringing the structure of the task force to the local level – a model the Workforce Crisis Task Force hopes to replicate in other counties in the coming year.
The Remove Obstacles subcommittee is focused on clearing pathways for those who face barriers to employment such as unreliable transportation and criminal records.
This year, the successful completion of the pilot Expungement Benefit Program at Baptist Health Hardin was announced. Through this program, employers assist employees with the expungement process and associated costs to remove qualifying Class D felony convictions from their records, which can be an impediment to successful employment.
The subcommittee put together a how-to guide on how employers can create an expungement benefits program and is available atltcareercenter.org/expungement.
Also, in response to the opioid crisis, the subcommittee collaborated with the state’s Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment to expand the number of transformational employers and decrease barriers to workforce participation.
The Unlock Local Potential subcommittee is dedicated to ensuring all regional students have access to high-quality, on-the-job learning opportunities within local industries. It has worked to understand interests of local high school students in programs at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College while bridging those interests with local employment opportunities. Also, the subcommittee is actively exploring opportunities to increase work-based learning opportunities.
Students who participate in these internships, co-ops or apprenticeships in the region are more likely to remain in the region, increasing the size and quality of the available workforce. More information is available atltcareercenter.org/wblo.
“Several factors impact workforce participation, which is why we have developed this multi-leveled approach to help solve the need for skilled, available workers in our region,” said state Rep. Dean Schamore, LTWDB chairman. “As we continue on the successful path we’ve set, we also are looking forward to what we can do in the future.”
To learn more about the Workforce Crisis Task Force and to join the effort, contact Sherry L. Johnson, associate director at Lincoln Trail Area Development District, at 270-769-2393 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up with the task force’s work, subscribe to its newsletter by emailing email@example.com.