Gov. Matt Bevin and Labor Sec. Derrick Ramsey today announced the launch of the “Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.” apprenticeship campaign at Voestalpine Roll Forming Corporation (RFC) in Shelbyville. They were joined by Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton; Ray Leathers, Roll Forming Corporation President and CEO; and Micah Craig, Roll Forming Corporation Process Engineer.
This initiative sets forth a goal of helping new program sponsors tap into the potential that apprenticeships have for their workforce needs.
“In our efforts to make Kentucky the manufacturing hub of excellence in America, we recognize the value of apprenticeships and their ability to help us achieve this goal,” said Gov. Bevin. “While a significant number of employers in Kentucky already realize the potential in apprenticeships, this initiative will seek to devote more resources and identify new industries where apprenticeships can play a pivotal role. This will be essential in addressing the workforce needs of employers in the Commonwealth.
“Apprenticeships provide career pathways for those just entering the workforce as well as increased opportunities for those looking to expand their career track. This is why the apprenticeship model’s ‘Grow Your Own’ approach will be a crucial tool for employees and employers alike. The future of workforce development looks bright in the Commonwealth. By re-committing ourselves to fully embracing the power of apprenticeships, we are placing ourselves in the best position to move Kentucky forward,” Gov. Bevin concluded.
The “Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.” campaign will commit new energy and resources to providing technical and marketing expertise toward this initiative and enable the Labor Cabinet to better identify and bring together key stakeholders who might benefit from a local apprenticeship pipeline. As a key priority to improve Kentucky’s manufacturing capabilities, this idea reflects a recommitment to harness the hard work and ingenuity of Kentucky’s job creators and job-seekers through apprenticeships to help solve the Commonwealth’s workforce challenges.
“The Labor Cabinet is in an important role to serve as a conduit to link employers who need skilled labor with individuals who are looking for a great career,” said Sec. Ramsey. “Once employers, high schools and postsecondary institutions at the local level begin to collaborate and streamline efforts to create career pathways, communities all across the Commonwealth will be better positioned to thrive in today’s economy.
“Today’s announcement should serve as an important reminder to employers and potential apprentices about the incredible career opportunities that apprenticeships can provide. I look forward to continuing to engage with career-seekers and employers across the state to remind them that the Labor Cabinet is a resource that they should utilize for everything apprenticeship related. Accordingly, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with employers to ensure that we are doing everything possible to help them meet their workforce goals and move this state forward.”
There are currently about 1,100 employers across Kentucky with registered apprenticeship programs that employ nearly 3,000 apprentices in various industries. While the majority of these programs exist in traditional industries, a number of employers in today’s economy have turned to apprenticeships to fill vital advanced manufacturing positions that require years of careful mentorship.
One such company is Voestalpine Roll Forming Corporation in Shelbyville – a roll forming technology and manufacturing company founded in 1947. Since beginning a registered apprenticeship program 13 years ago, the company’s sales have soared from $25 million to $125 million. Today, the company has 4 apprentices working under the tutelage of 11 Journeymen who have also completed the company’s apprenticeship program. RFC President and CEO Ray Leathers credits not only the apprenticeship program itself for helping fuel the company’s success, but also local partnerships with the Shelby County Area Technology Center and the Jefferson Community & Technical College’s Shelby County Campus.
“Since 2003, 13 employees have been successfully certified as apprentices for the tool and die making trade – completing 576 hours of classroom instruction and 8,000 hours of on the job training over a four year period,” Leathers explained. “The tool and die maker apprentices have been an integral part of our company’s technology development by providing the competitive edge that has contributed to our growth.
“Not only has our apprenticeship program been a blessing to RFC, but there is a real movement to create a Shelby County pipeline where local companies are increasingly leveraging the kind of homegrown talent that already exists here in Shelbyville by working with the Area Technology Center and the community college. Knowing that RFC is part of a community that is working together intuitively to strengthen our local workforce is critical to our company’s long-term success, and we are honored that Gov. Bevin is here to highlight the kind of achievements that RFC and Shelby County are having together.”
Micah Craig, a former tool maker turned Process Engineer after graduating from RFC’s apprenticeship program, is part of the local talent pool.
“RFC afforded me the opportunity to participate in the four-year apprenticeship program with Jefferson Community & Technical College,” Craig said. “This culminated in me landing a position as a tool maker in 2005, and after completing my apprenticeship in 2007, I was promoted to Design Engineer. Knowing that I wanted to grow my skill set while continuing to work in Shelbyville, leadership at RFC supported me when I chose to pursue the completion of my bachelor’s degree in 2012 and eventually promoted me to my current position today.”
Apprenticeship programs typically range from one to five years in length, but the majority of programs are four years long. For each year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will receive about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a required minimum of 144 hours of related classroom instruction. The Labor Cabinet works with each company to craft a customized curriculum that is specific to each employer’s needs. At the completion of the training program, the apprentice receives a nationally recognized certification.
While companies like RFC in Shelbyville are already seeing the benefits of a robust apprenticeship program, Sec. Ramsey aims to use the new initiative to increase awareness of the benefits that apprenticeships can provide to communities across Kentucky.
“Launching the ‘Kentucky Trained. Kentucky Built.’ campaign here at RFC in Shelbyville should provide a shining example for other communities also looking to address the ‘skills gap’ that is stifling long-term growth in so many industries,” Ramsey stated. “There are success stories like Micah’s and RFC’s in communities and various industries all across the state, and the Labor Cabinet will be working harder than ever to strengthen the Commonwealth’s workforce through apprenticeships.”
For more information on apprenticeships in Kentucky, visit: www.kentuckyapprenticeship.com.