Officials with KentuckianaWorks say healthcare jobs remain in demand, but the organization will also prepare residents in the 13 county metropolitan statistical area (MSA) for an increase in construction work this year as the Ohio River Bridges Project gets underway in the spring.
KentuckianaWorks was created under federal law to administer job placement and training programs.
Director Michael Gritton says over the past four years it has helped start over 1,500 nursing and healthcare related careers. This year, training efforts will also focus on construction work, which could be boosted by the Bridges Project, he says.
“The mayor’s interest and our interest is in having as many local as possible get trained to take those jobs. Obviously when you have a big project like this you want as many of your own folks to do the building and have the pride of knowing they’ve built it as possible,” Gritton says.
The contractors are not required to hire local workers to complete the projects because of the federal funds being used, but Indiana and Kentucky officials have voiced confidence that there will be plenty of local hires.
KentuckianaWorks will continue offering its Construction Pipeline training, which began a few years ago for construction of the KFC Yum Center. Last year, they placed 44 in the construction field, Gritton says.
“When people come out they are very well qualified and prepared to try to enter either as an entry level construction worker or many of them have succeed in becoming apprentices,” he says.
KentuckianaWorks has a budget of around $12 million, which decreased the past few years as federal stimulus money has run out. The organization budgets $2 million for training scholarships in several sectors including construction, healthcare and business.
Among them the trainings offered is the opportunity announced last year to earn a Registered American Moving Professional (RAMP) certification, which trains and places eligible applicants with one of a few moving companies. Only 12 people have taken advantage of so far. The program can take over 200 trainees, Gritton says.
“We’ve had a lot of people express interest but they’ve been screened out in various ways,” Gritton says.
Finally, KentuckianaWorks’ Summer Works Program will try to place 800 youth in jobs this summer, doubling last years amount when around 400 youth were placed in jobs. Around a quarter were placed in private businesses and Gritton says he expects that number to increase with even more private investment.
Norton Healthcare and Thorntons are among three private companies that have committed to increase their pledges this year. Gritton says this brings the total private job commitment to over 150 so far.