Beshear chooses Shelby to launch new program

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New employment center is example

By Lisa King

Out of 75 Kentucky Career Centers across the state, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear chose Shelby County’s on Thursday to unveil the commonwealth’s newly overhauled workforce development system.

“We are putting a system in place that will better equip Kentucky’s workforce with the skills required to be relevant in the new economy and will provide our businesses with the top-notch workforce they need,” Beshear told a crowd of about 75 at the new Kentucky Career Center on Brunerstown Road.

The change, he said, signifies the transition from the perception of the “unemployment office” to a broader focus on career services not only for job seekers, but also for employers.

Shelby County’s newly revamped center opened June 24 near the Interstate 64/KY 55 interchange from the East End of Shelbyville, and officials said then that it is positioning what have traditionally been called “unemployment offices.”

Beshear told the crowd, which included the facility’s employees and city and county officials, that the new system is all about making a better effort to get people displaced by the recession back to work.

“Along the way, we realized that our workforce development system was a mismatch of services with inconsistent offerings from office to office,” he said. “It wasn’t what it needed to be. So we overhauled the system. The bottom line is, we want to better equip Kentucky’s workforce with the skills required to be relevant in this new economy.”

What those changes mean for Shelby County is that the five employees from the old office at 31 Mount Rushmore Road now share their building with five new employees from KentuckianaWorks, an agency established 10 years ago after the federal Workforce Investment Act was put in place, designed to turn employment offices into one-stop career centers.

The center’s focus now isn’t solely on helping people find jobs and get education and training opportunities and apply for unemployment insurance but also to help employers meet their workforce needs by linking them with qualified employees.

This trend, Beshear said, started in 2009 when, at his direction, the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board developed WorkSmart Kentucky, a strategic plan that culminated after three years in the launch of the Kentucky Career Center.

Why did the governor single out the Shelby County office for the statewide launch?

“Shelbyville is a great example of what these career centers can be,” Beshear told a reporter after his speech. “We’ve got a beautiful new building here, a great staff, and they work very hard to implement all these new policies and procedures that we’re putting in place.

“So it made all the sense in the world to give Shelbyville this notoriety as we launch these centers.”

Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said that notoriety was fine with him, but the important thing is the opportunities the new center will bring to the community.

“We’re extremely glad that the governor has chosen to come down today for the kickoff of this new Kentucky Career Center,” he said. “We all knew it as just the unemployment office and I’m glad to see the name change and a lot of innovate new programs that should help a lot of people became employed or become better employed.”

KWIB Chair Ed Holmes also told attendees that renaming employment offices is important because a name should not only tell people what the office does, but also what its focus is on.

“That’s why we have taken steps through twenty-five strategic initiatives to assure our system can fulfill the brand promise to provide employers with a qualified, skilled workforce and the people of Kentucky with career, job training and educational opportunities,” he said.

Beth Brinly, commissioner of the Department for Workforce Development, told the crowd that “I’d like the thank the Shelbyville office for holding this statewide launch at this new office that just opened one month ago.

Brinly said one important change that has occurred is that there is now a Web site that gives access to all 75 centers.

For more information abut Kentucky Career Center, visit www.kentuckycareercenter.com.