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Kentucky receives two federal grants totaling $1.95M to assist veterans, transitioning service members

As part of its Occupational and Licensing Review and Reform Program, the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded the Commonwealth of Kentucky two grants totaling $1.95 million.

The grants will be used to review and streamline licensing requirements and address licensure challenges for veterans and transitioning service members.

Kentucky is one of 11 member states in the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium, a program established by the Council of State Governments, the National Governor’s Association, and the National Conference of State Legislatures. The consortium is reviewing occupational licensing programs across the country to establish best practices for occupational licensing.

In a cooperative and multi-agency approach, the Department for Local Government submitted the application after the Public Protection Cabinet’s Department of Professional Licensing, DLG, and the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs partnered in the grant application process. The grant dollars will be used to implement those best practices identified through the work of the consortium.

Kentucky is making strides in professional licensing reform. On April 2, 2018, Gov. Matt Bevin signed House Bill 319, which will make it easier for U.S. veterans and military service members to start businesses and pursue certain career opportunities in Kentucky. The goal of House Bill 319 is to streamline the process for veterans trying to obtain civilian occupational licenses by recognizing credentials obtained while in the military.

“I would like to thank the U.S. Department of Labor for supporting this cross-agency effort that is truly in line with the goals of Gov. Bevin’s Red Tape Reduction Initiative,” Department for Local Government Commissioner Sandra K. Dunahoo said. “Our goal is to improve the way the commonwealth’s 43 professional and occupational licensing boards work together to serve the workforce. When we work collaboratively, we can build better lives for all Kentuckians, particularly for veterans and disproportionately affected populations.”

K. Gail Russell, acting secretary of the Public Protection Cabinet, agreed: “The Public Protection Cabinet is specifically reviewing licensing practices to help ease regulatory burdens and barriers to entry into work without sacrificing public protection. These grant dollars will provide real and tangible benefits to Kentucky residents and help that effort.”

“We are ecstatic that Kentucky has received these two grants,” said Blaine Hedges, executive director of KCMA. “This funding will go a long way to help create a pipeline of highly qualified and dependable military veterans transitioning into this state’s workforce. KCMA is working to ensure that Kentucky is recognized as the most military-friendly state in the nation, and we want service members everywhere to know that if they come here after they finish serving the country, they will be welcomed with open arms.”

Last year alone, approximately 5,448 soldiers separated from the Army at Kentucky installations, with 1,060 choosing to live to Kentucky. In addition, there are 297,312 veterans in the commonwealth. Kentucky is expected to have 84,060 job openings per year between 2014 and 2024 in critical industries, such as healthcare, public protection, mechanics, construction, and transportation.

Using these grants, the Public Protection Cabinet’s Department of Professional Licensing, the Department for Local Government, and the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs will continue their collaboration and effort to reduce obstacles to employment and build on the other job-growing successes in the commonwealth.

From Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs

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