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Kentucky launches K-TECH initiative for Hazard Independent, Perry County students

Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet has launched Kentucky Advanced Technical College High (K-TECH), the state’s first college-high apprenticeship program, in partnership with Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC), University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health, Appalachian Regional Hospitals, Juniper Health, and Hazard Independent Schools.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations play a significant role in the expansion of Kentucky’s economy. In an effort to prepare the state’s future workforce, K-TECH will help Kentucky meet the heightening demand for workers with STEM skills by incorporating apprenticeship opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics into high school curriculum.

Derrick Ramsey

“Kentucky’s workforce is thriving with opportunities for individuals seeking employment, however, employers are facing challenges with filling these opportunities with skilled workers,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey. “As a proven strategy for recruiting, training and retaining employees, K- TECH allows us to utilize the apprenticeship model to further equip students with credentials and STEM skills that are essential for promoting economic growth. Our long term vision for the Commonwealth is to improve the financial and career success of all Kentuckians by creating career pipelines that ensure successful transition into the workforce.”

One of six highly competitive national awards, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Kentucky a three-year $627,000 grant to launch an apprenticeship program for high school students enrolled in Hazard Independent and Perry County schools. With a focus on two of the state’s fastest growing job sectors, health care and IT, the Pathways to STEM Apprenticeship grant supports Kentucky’s efforts to prepare the future workforce by increasing the number of students participating in STEM courses in high school and post-secondary schools in the Commonwealth.

“Hazard Community and Technical College is honored to be involved in the K-TECH pilot project,” said HCTC President Dr. Jennifer Lindon. “The program will expose high school students to technical occupations in healthcare and information technology and allow employers and students to create connections that could lead to full-time employment. It’s a positive for all parties involved,”

K-TECH provides students in grades 9-12 with traditional high school subjects in combination with an advanced STEM curriculum developed by local business and industry partners. Through the program, students will have the opportunity to meet potential employers, take dual credit course work, receive soft skills training, and participate in paid apprenticeships. The project’s goal is to help students obtain the skills needed for them to succeed in the workforce by placing at least 100 Kentucky high students into paid apprenticeships over the next three years.

The K-TECH curriculum is designed to build students’ technical and non-technical skills to help them excel in school and the workforce. The curriculum matches each student with an industry mentor for the duration of the program and progressively builds opportunities for students to connect classroom learning to real-life situations and applications. Mentors work closely with teachers to help guide students through practical projects and problem-solving exercises.

Leveraging U.S. Department of Labor funding, K-TECH will utilize the expertise of apprenticeship consultants Dr. Robert Lerman, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute, and Nicholas Wyman, CEO of Skilling Australia, for the development and implementation the apprenticeship model.

From Education & Workforce Development Cabinet

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