KWIB, strategic plan praised for improved state local development system

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear’s reconstituted Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) and overhaul of the state’s workforce investment system has received high praise from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and become a role model for other states, according to a recently released federal monitoring report.

“It is great to be recognized by the federal government for the work that we are doing, and it confirms what we already knew,” said Gov. Beshear. “Kentucky is heading in the right direction and we have an extraordinary board that is responding to economic conditions and business and industry demands to bring more and better paying jobs to our citizens.”

The DOL Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) review of Kentucky’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult program said, “The Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, over the course of the past few years, has evolved into a model state board. Numerous inquiries and requests for technical assistance from states such as Oklahoma, South Carolina, California, Virginia, Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas regarding replicating the strategic plan serve as evidence of the quality of Kentucky’s work.”

In the two years since Kentucky developed and began implementing a new strategic state plan to transform its workforce development system, Kentucky has responded to requests from 16 states for information regarding its planning process, strategic initiatives and implementation structure.

“The ultimate compliment is when other states want to know how we are transforming our workforce development system and want to replicate Kentucky’s initiative in their states,” said Ed Holmes, chair of KWIB.

The new board, installed in 2009, is meeting the changing demands of a global market and difficult economy by implementing 25 action steps outlined in WORKSmart Kentucky, a strategic plan that was adopted after extensive input from both employer and individual customers, local and state workforce professionals, economic development officials, educators and business leaders.

The report noted the KWIB’s success at changing the workforce development system and culture.

“The KWIB sought to transform its workforce development system that was viewed as overly complex, not user friendly, program driven, and lacked the cohesion of an efficient and effective service delivery organization. The KWIB’s push for innovative solutions to the challenges identified has resulted in a set of 25 robust action steps found in the WORKSmart Kentucky strategic plan. Moving forward with these action steps has resulted in varying degrees of improvement across the entire statewide system,” the report said.

The KWIB is working with various state agencies and includes officials from the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Labor Cabinet, and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.  The board’s mission is to improve the state’s education, workforce and business resources. In addition, KWIB works with 10 local workforce investment boards across the state that provide training, education and employer services for businesses and communities.

“We owe a lot of the success KWIB is achieving to our board members who represent business, labor, state and local government, education and economic development. We have incredibly active board members who have taken ownership of the change process and want to improve the economy and quality of life for everyone,” said Education and Workforce Development Secretary Joseph U. Meyer.

The report also showed that Kentucky has met or exceeded its federal goals on the number of adults served who have entered employment, retained a job and earned a targeted average wage.

In addition, the report said, “The ETA reviewer observed that this extensive undertaking, along with extraordinary demands on the system in recent years, has at times been exhausting for staff at all levels of the system. As action steps are successfully implemented, the reviewer found there is a recognizable sense of accomplishment among program staff. The reviewer found the quality of the grantee’s strategic approach had a positive impact on the service delivery to WIA Adults.”

The 42 members of KWIB serve as an advisory board to Gov. Beshear on workforce training and development issues. The KWIB is charged with creating a statewide vision for workforce development and adopting a plan to move Kentucky forward economically through workforce training and development.

The report includes a review of a sample of adult participant files, site visits, interviews with staff and officials and a review of board minutes.

The report summarized, “Although this report is not designed to capture every program development, Kentucky has produced a number of best practices; and with the strategic groundwork in place, there is great potential for more. The reviewer found staff at all levels to be dedicated, competent, innovative and caring professionals who have performed well during very demanding times.”

For more information about KWIB and the WORKSmart Kentucky strategic plan, visit http://www.kwib.ky.gov/index.htm.




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