ACCESS – Opening Doors to Job Seekers  

A ground-breaking program launched in Fayette County in November of 2015, with the intent to eventually make the program available throughout Central Kentucky.  This program was developed by the Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass at the request of local employers. These employers, for some time, have told the staff that candidates can be trained to do the job, but they don’t have time to teach those candidates the essential skills required to succeed in the job.

The Academy for Continuing Careers, Employment, & Soft Skills (ACCESS) does that, by bridging the essential skills gap between what job seekers know about the world of work and what employers expect of their future employees.  The program is an intensive week-long, free training for job seekers seriously interested in securing a career and succeeding in that career.
The first of this free week-long training was held at BCTC’s Adult Education building, November 16th through the 20th, where students were taken through three stages of employment: “finding the job,” “getting the job,” and “keeping the job.”  In stage one, ACCESS helps the job seeker dig deeper by educating them how to find a job that will be a good fit, recognizing their own transferrable skills, and matching them with a position inside a company that will benefit both the employer and job seekers needs. Once the job seeker has learned to identify their own value through their transferrable skills, the program then steps to honing their interviewing skills in a way that would allow them to answer interview questions in a confident manner, allowing the employer to better gage the job seeker’s abilities and likely success. Finally, the training focuses on identifying key things that make an employee successful, addressing the importance of time management, positive communication skills, and taking initiative.

Though time management and communication is discussed in the final step of the class room training, throughout the week candidates are scored on their ability to show up for class on time and their level of participation, cooperation, dedication, and attitude. On day four, applicants begin to put their skills into practice with mock interviewing, as well as measuring their practical skills by taking the WorkKeys (NCRC) assessment. By Friday, job seekers are ready to interview with companies who are ready to hire. They are armed with an updated professional resume, newly developed essential skills, and an ACCESS Rubic and WorkKeys scores to give the employer an idea of how well this potential new employee could perform.
The format of this training program appears to work.  Employers who participated in the first job fair reported being very pleased with the quality of the candidates they met.  Employers made note of the individuals’ excellent interviewing skills and the quality of their resume.  Some students were asked to complete an application that day to be considered for hire. The students gave similar feedback, saying they had more confidence and were comfortable in interviews and felt more prepared and comfortable meeting with potential employers.
If you are interested in utilizing ACCESS as part of your business or being an employer that participates in ACCESS Career Fairs for graduates, please contact us!
The BGWIB Weighs in on Lexington’s Minimum Wage Debate  


In an Executive Committee meeting of the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board held on Tuesday, September 8th, members were provided with a brief presentation from Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe (10th District) regarding Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s ongoing debate pertaining to a city-wide minimum wage increase.

​In an Executive Committee meeting of the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board held on Tuesday, September 8th, members were provided with a brief presentation from Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe (10th District) regarding Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s ongoing debate pertaining to a city-wide minimum wage increase.
Tracy Pratt-Savage, Chair of the Bluegrass Workforce Innovation Board (BGWIB), said, “While we applaud, in principal, Lexington's desire to raise the minimum wage, the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board would ask that Lexington move slowly and cautiously to consider the negative impact any minimum wage hike would have on both outlining areas and the programs that the BGWIB administers.  For instance, the work-based learning program for youth that the board oversees would only be able to employ about half the ‘at-risk’ students we can offer ‘first’ jobs to (at $10.10 vs. a $7.25 wage) in the 17 counties we serve.
For that reason we support those who favor a more cautious approach of raising the minimum wage in small steps, over time, with exemptions for internships and educational training in line with federal guideline.”

Four (4) of the five (5) Executive Committee members voted for the recommendation, with one (1) choosing to recommend postponing the increase discussion altogether until Louisville’s current legal challenge to their minimum wage hike is settled.  Ms. Pratt-Savage added her thoughts behind the recommendation, stating, “Lexington is not in a vacuum.  Anything Fayette County does, will affect surrounding areas, consumers, employees and employers.”

The BGWIB represents a 17-county area in Central Kentucky, a region comprised of a number of rural counties, such as Boyle, Estill, Garrard, Harrison, Nicholas, and Powell.  The Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board: “Connecting Employers with Employees”

JULY 2015

MCSI – Another Year Guiding Youth To Careers in the Medical Field

There has been two notable successes these camps have demonstrated: Academic and Community. Academic Success: Students are provided a pre-test at the beginning of each day to measure each student’s knowledge in algebra, anatomy and physiology, trigonometry, and chemistry. At the end of each day, students are given a post-test to ensure that their understanding of valuable medical related courses is increased. Every year, both the Beginner and Advanced camp has documented a knowledge increase of between 9 and 46 percent. Community Success: The growing popularity of the camps each year has brought on support from additional community partners. Whether participation of the business or organization is made through a monetary donation or through the use of their staff and facility for training purposes, the community has shown growing support as the reputation of the camps continue to increase.
​The 2015 Beginners and Advanced camp finished in June where 24 beginning level attendees and 19 advanced level returning attendees completed their week long camps with a dinner and awards ceremony at the Hilton Downtown in Lexington.  The closing ceremony gathers the students, their parents, consortium members, and various state and local elected officials to celebrate previous week’s achievements.  
The Medical Career and Science Institute (MCSI) began in 2011 in the minds of the members of the Bluegrass Healthcare Consortium. The purpose of the camp was to address the long-term need for qualified staff in the healthcare industry, by providing an educational and entertaining camp for youth who wished to explore the field as a career option.

By 2012, the first camp was held for 23 students who met the predetermined academic criteria. The one week non-residential camp provided a structured educational curriculum that included lectures in algebra, anatomy/physiology, and trigonometry; also included in the camp were hand-on activities in a laboratory and off-site trips to local medical related facilities.

With the overwhelming success of the first year, a second camp was added in 2013.  The new camp allowed students who completed the previous year returned to expand their knowledge of the healthcare field further with a more hands on curriculum and additional off-site visits and more detailed laboratory experiments.

Tours of local medical related facilities proved a favorite of the youth who participate each year.  In the first year youth were provided tours of Minimally Invasive Surgery Lab, the Science Center at the University of Kentucky, and the Sullivan School of Pharmacy where instructors provided a hands-on opportunity for attendees to create lip balm and cinnamon capsules.   With the addition of the Advanced Camp new tours were added and attendees got to experience Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. Continuing with the practical concept of the tours youth were shown how to use some rehabilitation equipment, as well as, test equipment while visiting Cardinal Hill. Other locations that have been toured as part of the MCSI Camps include: UK School of Dentistry, Louisville Zoo, and local colleges and universities.

Regional Career Fair - “Connecting Employers with Employees”

The second annual Regional Career Fair was held on June 4th.  The Regional Career Fair is a one day event held in Lexington that provides a one-stop shop for job seekers and employers to connect and discuss opportunities.  This year there were a record sixty-three (63) employers and more than 1,000 available positions.

Representation from the four emerging sectors in the Bluegrass (Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, IT, and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics) are given priority in the planning of the event and is shown in the employer representation with companies like: International Crankshaft, Bethel Parsons, Penske Logistics, LexTran, CVS/Health, LifePoint Hospitals, General Dynamics Information Technology, and UPS Airlines. Other employers representing the private sector (Quad/Graphics Inc., Central Bank & Trust, and Hyatt Regency), as well as the public sector (Kentucky Department of Corrections, Kentucky State Police and the Personnel Cabinet) were represented.

A survey was presented to employers after the event to gage the success.  Of the fifty-five (55) employers who returned their surveys, fifty-four (54) considered it successful, and one answered it was “to be determined” based on interview outcomes.  An average of fifty (50) job seekers visited each table and 179 interviews were scheduled. Approximately 260 job seekers attended the daylong event.

Recommendations for improving the event were requested as part of the survey.  All suggestions will be taken into consideration when planning the next event.  Some suggestions included: providing noise barriers to reduce sound from adjacent booths, dividing up the fair into a more sector focused event, and focusing on recruiting business level or professional level job seekers.  Overall, the responses provided by the employers were positive and employers were pleased with the preparedness and quality of the candidates in attendance. Planning for the next Regional Career Fair will begin in a few short months and we look forward to the event continuing to grow. 

JUNE 2015

NEW Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass Opens in Richmond, Kentucky

MAY 2015

The Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass held its ribbon cutting on May 29th at their new location at 2028 Merrick Drive.  Several members of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce as well as local elected officials were in attendance. 

The event kicked off with speeches Education and Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Beth Brinly, Executive Chair of the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board: Tracy Pratt-Savage, and Office Manager for the Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass in Richmond Jana Reed. A theme of partnership ran through all the presentations, as well as the importance of making Madison County a prosperous area families and businesses.  The short presentations were followed by the ribbon cutting that took place outside the building.

APRIL 2015

Joi Rapach – A WIA Success

Joi Rapach had worked at Creation Technologies (formerly SMC) for 8 ½ years as a Materials Clerk before she was laid-off in February of 2013.  She found out about the WIA program through the Rapid Response services provided by the employer during lay-off.

For quite some time, Joi had been interested in pursuing a career in accounting.  Unfortunately, she was unable to afford the additional education required for the change in profession.  That was until, she met with a WIA Workforce Specialist who explained she was eligible for training benefits through Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). WIA aided her in the process and guided her on her path back to school. 

Joi completed her education and received an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Maysville Community and Technical College, along with certificates in Accounting, Basic Business Administration, and Financial Perspectives. In November 2014, she was hired by Hinkle Holding Company in Paris as an Accounting Clerk.

Joi is currently making $12.00 an hour.  She shared her new employer pays the cost for most of her benefits, provides yearly bonuses, and she knows she will be making a better income in a few short years.  Plus, she is in a career she loves. 

We celebrate Joi Rapach’s hard work, determination and clear success in a field she loves.  WIA is very happy to have been able to help her through it!

MARCH 2015

MAY 2015

​​Thirty individuals have shown interest in the program. With each one that attends the orientation, an intensive review of possible barriers to employment begins with a short assessment. The computerized assessment determines the client’s level of work readiness.  Those who do not meet a standard guideline of 75% are put in contact with Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE); clients who pass the initial assessment are given the full Work Keys Assessment through which they can earn a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). If clients indicate that they have physical or emotional limitations (i.e. arthritis, depression, etc.), the client is put in contact with Vocational Rehabilitation.

To date, there are five (5) individuals who have completed enrollment in the program.  The KCCGO Specialist has assisted these clients with employability skills, such as job searching techniques, resume building, and networking.  

Since enrolling in the KCCGO Program, one KCCGO participant who has exhausted all UI benefits, has gained a Silver NCRC and is interviewing with two different companies, GE and Florida Tile.  This client’s outlook on finding employment has changed completely.  He stated, “It had taken a toll on me mentally to be without job prospects for so long and now, to have two companies looking at me, it is wonderful.”  
Kentucky Career Center Get Opportunity (KCCGO) is a grant for those who are long term unemployed or have been profiled as likely to exhaust their UI benefits.  Services provided through KCCGO can include occupational skills training in high demand occupations, which include Class A CDL, Electronic Health Records, Manufacturing Skill Standards Certification (MSSC), and customer service.  OJTs and paid work experience may be an option for clients who are work ready and don’t need additional classroom training.

Ongoing recruitment efforts are through the Kentucky Employment Network (KEN) and Re-Employment Activities (REA) classes provided in each local Kentucky Career Center.  KCCGO orientations are held weekly.   
Kateruah Witt – Following Her Dreams with a Little Help from WIA
​​Kateruah Witt was laid off from her job of 18 years and was at a loss on what to do next.  She attended a Rapid Response session at her former employer, where she met Workforce Specialist, Jennifer Hayes.  “Jennifer was very supportive and helpful from the very first time I met her,” said Kateruah.

During their meeting, Jennifer told Kateruah about the BGWIB Scholarship Program and the opportunity she had to return to school.  Kateruah had always been interested in the medical field, so she took the opportunity offered to her with the program to return to school and get her degree.

After two years in training, Kateruah is now a Registered Medical Assistant with Kentucky One Health Urgent Treatment in Richmond, Kentucky.  She enjoys her job and is so much happier and secure in her new career.  She contributes the satisfaction in her career and the financial security she has received to the continued support of the Kentucky Career Center – Bluegrass in Richmond and her Workforce Specialist.

Kateruah has been so pleased with the service she received from the career center that she has agreed to be the first of what we hope to be many success stories promoted at the local Kentucky Career Center locations across the Bluegrass Region.