SKYCTC Presents An Evening with Industry
By Will Perkins – Glasgow Daily Times
GLASGOW – Students, community members and educators from around the region gathered in the Barren County High School auditorium on Tuesday for “An Evening With Industry,” an event presented by Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.
James McCaslin, vice president of outreach and community development at SKYCTC, emceed the night and introduced Derrick Ramsey, secretary of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.
Ramsey spoke about apprenticeships as an option for students, and that those who enter apprenticeships will still have an opportunity to get a degree.
“I'm not anti-university at all,” he said. “Not at all. But what I am is pro-opportunity and I'm also anti-debt.”
Ramsey said if people want to work, the opportunity is there.
“Decide what you want and go after it,” he said.
Kentucky currently has almost 200,000 open jobs, Ramsey said. He challenged the students in the auditorium to find what they are passionate about and to pursue a career in it.
“You can be whatever you want to be,” he said. “It's up to you. What we are here for is to make you aware of all these incredible opportunities.
“I'm here to tell you, there are jobs. The question is, are you willing to go after it?”
Brad Montell, deputy secretary of the Kentucky Department of Education and Workforce Development, said “low-skilled jobs” are going away and “they're never coming back. Montell defined “low-skilled jobs” as jobs that only require a high school diploma or a GED.
“A high school diploma is no longer enough,” Montell said, adding that about 20,000 students graduated high school last year “with no skills and no prospect of gaining skills, and virtually no chance of earning a living wage for themselves or their families.”
Montell said that 15 percent of jobs are “low-skilled” and that “we have more than enough people to fill those jobs.” He said the stigma of learning trade skills needs to change.
“It's college or college,” he said. “It's college – academic. Or college – career, technical. They're both advanced learning. We have to have them both. No more stigma. We don't have time for the stigma. We have to move Kentucky forward.”
Winston Bennett, director of apprenticeships for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, told the students that “everything you do right now counts.”
“Don't think what you do is menial,” he said. “It means everything.”
Bennett said they are trying to give the students the opportunity to be successful.
“We're trying to give you opportunities to take care of your family,” he said. “We're trying to give you opportunities to have a better life.”
Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews was the final speaker of the night, and he had some encouraging words for the students.
“We want you to know and believe that you are among a community of dreamers and doers,” he said. “We want Glasgow, Barren County and surrounding counties to be a part of the state that is the example.
“All school districts will continue to innovate.”
An Evening with Industry continued in the Barren County Area Technology Center where Kingsford Charcoal of Summer Shade provided a meal. Area industries set up booths in the hallways and students were able to meet with industry leaders and potential employers.
Students from Red Cross Elementary and Barren County Middle School stood next to a booth that showcased the RCE's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program. Ramsey walked up to their booth and spoke with the students.
RCE sixth-grader Leah Somerville said they were learning about coding and problem solving.
Before Ramsey moved to another booth, he gave all of the students big smiles and high fives.