February 2, 2017 - The Barren County Board of Education, lead partner in the Barren Regional Technical Campus Project, has been awarded $6.84 million in the first round of Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative funding. The Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative is aimed at building a highly trained, modernized workforce in the Commonwealth to meet the needs of employers and promote sustainable incomes for Kentuckians.
The Barren Regional Technical Campus Project is a long sought-after vision the Barren County regional partners have developed as a result of extensive research and development on avenues to address the workforce and educational needs of the region.There are approximately 450 unfilled jobs in Barren County and over 6,000 vacant jobs in the South Central Kentucky region.The regional campus expansion will modernize and expand the existing Barren County Area Technology Center to provide updated equipment and added programming for students to obtain industry certifications as well as building a stronger bridge to post-secondary and employment opportunities.
“Education and workforce development have always been related, but not always on the same page.Our educational product has not always closely aligned with the immediate needs of business, health care, and industry,” according to Bo Matthews, Superintendent of Barren County Schools.For the past two years, school district leaders in the region have toured state-of-the-art facilities, studied 21st Century programming, and discussed ways to create a stronger bond with stakeholders.Mr. Matthews commented, “This project is a testimony to what a community and education system can accomplish together to create a flourishing and thriving place to live and work.”
In September of 2015, over seventy community and industrial leaders from the region began a journey that led to this historical moment of creating a workforce hub to meet the needs of the region.The Regional Center will be a collaborative model incorporating partnerships with six school districts, two higher education institutions, along with numerous civic and industry leaders. Continuing on the 30 year partnership with Barren County, Caverna Independent, Glasgow Independent, and Hart County Schools, the Barren Regional Technical Campus will also expand offerings to make non-duplicated programs available to students in Allen and Metcalfe County districts. Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College and Western Kentucky University will provide dual credit coursework and adult training opportunities.“While we pledge to encourage and expand upon AP and dual credit opportunities for our students, we plan to match an emphasis on apprenticeships and certifications.We intend to create program experiences for our students that are in direct response to community needs, while we open the doors to our facility for additional training opportunities for business, industry and post-secondary education partners after the traditional school day”, stated Mr. Matthews.
Barren Regional Technical Campus project funds will be divided for construction and equipment, with $3.2 million devoted to bringing students cutting-edge technology and tools of the 21st Century. As industry leaders toured the current facility, each agreed that students and adults need access to relevant equipment to train for industry standards. The remaining $3.6 million will renovate existing facilities, adding new construction for a state-of-the-art diesel program that is currently not available within this region of the Commonwealth."The renovation and construction of this facility will add opportunities for students in an environment that mimics the workplaces in our region, and we are excited to have this grant to update and modernize a building that was constructed over four decades ago," commented Mark Wallace, Barren County Schools Associate Superintendent.
Ashley Bell, Barren County Area Technology Center Principal, commented “As an educator, I want state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for our students because all students deserve a first-class education that is relevant to the job market they are entering.The facility and equipment upgrades, along with our group of outstanding educators, will be the catalyst to push this community forward and all students the opportunity to excel.I look forward to collaborating with school districts, industry and the community to make this an economic hub that would rival any in the Commonwealth.”
“The Barren Regional Technical Campus will provide training for five priority sectors including advanced manufacturing, health science, transportation, information technology and construction," commented Scott Harper, Barren County Director of Instruction & Technology. He continued. "The most exciting aspects are the new opportunities for our students. The high interest STEM related careers will better prepare our students for the jobs our community and nation need now and in the future."
Much work has been done over the past year to forge a united vision and community-rich partnerships to address challenges our region faces with workforce development.Educational and industrial leaders are communicating on a regular basis, and the priority sectors identified were selected based on needs communicated by industries in the region, along with workforce data.
"The heart of the Barren Regional Technical Campus proposal is in the collaboration with local business and industry to align training, certifications, and pathways to meet the immediate and long-term needs of our students, our economy and our community," stated Amy Irwin, Barren County College and Career Development Coordinator & IDEA board member. "Working together on a united community vision, the proposal partners supported the efforts of this project by serving on vision and planning teams, donating equipment, hosting site visits for students and educators, consulting on employer needs, and helping to forge these needs into innovations.”
The following project partners submitted letters of commitment for the BRTC project:
- Barren County Board of Education
- Barren County Area Technology Center
- Glasgow Independent Schools
- Metcalfe County Board of Education
- Allen County Board of Education
- Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College
- Western Kentucky University
- Barren County Judge Executive Michael Hale
- Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty
- IDEA Executive Director Dan Iacconi
- Glasgow Barren County Chamber of Commerce
- Span Tech LLC
- Amneal Pharmaceuticals
- NHC Healthcare
- R&S Northeast LLC
- Barren County Schools 21st Century Community Learning Centers
- Barren County Community Education
- Senator David Givens
- D&B Trucks
- Wright Implement
"Local and state officials helped us lead the charge to the shared vision with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. We give many thanks for the time and efforts made by Work Ready Skills Initiative Advisory Committee, Senator David Givens, Representative Steve Riley, Barren County Judge Executive Michael Hale, Glasgow Mayor Dick Doty, and Executive Director of Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development and Economic Authority, Dan Iaconni," stated Matthews.
The Barren Regional Technical Campus partners have truly developed a “Community with a Vision” and are dedicated to utilizing the Work Ready Skills Initiative Funds to benefit students, families and industry in the entire region.