Politics

Amid a shortage of skilled workers, Gov. Matt Bevin says that the state and country need to focus on training young people to fill jobs in high-demand industries like manufacturing, health care and transportation.

“Everything that is being done with taxpayer money in this state should be focused on delivering what the purpose of an education is,” Bevin said. “It’s not to have a piece of paper. Because a piece of paper with no skill behind it is of no value.”

Bevin made the comments after a roundtable discussion in Shelbyville Thursday with the head of the federal Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Bevin once again singled out French literature as an area of study that students shouldn’t focus on, saying people should study “things that will produce the kind of skills, the kind of abilities to be useful citizens.”

“The purpose of public education and of public dollars going into education isn’t to humor people that are liberal,” Bevin said. “It is to ensure that people who need to hire people to do work actually have the skills necessary.”

During his first State of the Commonwealth Address in 2016, Bevin said “All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayer.”

Bevin said that the state needs to make it easy for people to get training for high-demand jobs.

“And we don’t need people who belittle these kind of conversations and mock the idea that we’re encouraging people to be trained in the very things that the workplace demands,” Bevin said.

As the unemployment rate has ticked down in Kentucky and across the country, wage growth has remained stagnant.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.