State of Kentucky Case Study (written by the National Governors Association)
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor set out on a collaborative effort with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to execute the Expanding Community College Apprenticeship (ECCA) initiative. AACC, which advocates on behalf of its membership of almost 1,200 community colleges and about twelve million students, selected 58 individual community colleges and eight consortia to receive financial and technical assistance. The cumulative goal for the cohort is to register 16,000 apprentices by the end of the three-year project.
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS)
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is a member of the ECCA cohort, consists of 16 colleges at more than 70 locations across the commonwealth of Kentucky. Its mission is to “improve the quality of life and employability” of its students, and its chief goal for the ECCA project is to scale and improve its advanced manufacturing programs. One strategy KCTCS has employed to achieve this goal is the embedment of apprenticeship coordinators at each of its 16 colleges. Apprenticeship coordinators have undergone registered apprenticeship training as well as workforce and business needs analysis training to ensure that programs are of high quality and continue to meet the needs of employers. Moreover, KCTCS has set out to recruit and train more individuals from groups that have been historically underrepresented in Kentucky’s manufacturing sector, including ethnic minorities, women, incumbent workers, and veterans. Scaling programs in the advanced manufacturing sector—which, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, accounted for 13 percent of Kentucky’s workforce in 2019—will be KCTCS’ primary focus in the ECCA project.
Apprenticeship programs offered by KCTCS are approved by the Office of Employer and Apprenticeship Services (OEAS) within Kentucky’s Education & Workforce Development Cabinet. OEAS, which was formerly housed in Kentucky’s Labor Cabinet, was transferred to the Education & Workforce Development Cabinet in 2018 upon a combination of executive and legislative action.
Recent Programmatic Innovation and Structural Change in Kentucky’s Apprenticeship Landscape
In July of 2018, former Governor Matt Bevin signed Executive Order 2018-56 to initiate the reorganization of Kentucky’s apprenticeship governance structures. The executive order cited analyses from agency leaders that the reorganization would make apprenticeship operations more efficient and allow for a more prolific expansion of apprenticeship programs in the Commonwealth. Executive Order 2018-056 was followed by legislation that was signed into law in March of 2019. Along with solidifying the reorganization, House Bill 246 decodified Kentucky’s Apprenticeship Council. The statute gives the governor the authority to appoint all six members to the Council, which advises the Commissioner of the Department of Workforce Investment on all matters of apprenticeship policy. Per the statute and governing regulations, membership of the Council must include:
- 2 members that represent apprentices or employees;
- 2 members that represent employers or apprenticeship sponsors; and
- 2 members that serve in the “at large” posts.
All members serve four-year terms alongside the Commissioner of Workforce Investment, who serves as the seventh member and chair of the Council.
The modifications to Kentucky’s apprenticeship governance came as the commonwealth was undertaking an innovative approach to continue expanding apprenticeship opportunities. In 2018, Kentucky’s state government looked inward to its own agencies for opportunity to expand apprenticeship programs. The initial offerings ranged from computer support specialist programs at the Department of Community-Based Services to automotive technician programs at the Transportation Cabinet. Kentucky’s approach, which has been replicated in peer states and localities, was the subject of a case study by the Urban Institute.
DEVELOPING RESOURCES FOR COLLEGES AND FOR THE FIELD
Along with the registration of 200 apprentices, KCTCS has committed to publishing two toolkits for the benefit of its colleges and fellow ECCA grantees. The first document, which will be developed in partnership with the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development, will draw on existing publications and aim to ensure that relevant stakeholders in Kentucky can improve their programmatic processes. Additionally, KCTCS will profile each of its colleges to disseminate best practices with regards to successful outcomes for both students and industry partners.