The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has a tradition of helping facilitate people receive on-the-job training for apprenticeships, but the cabinet is looking to expand those opportunities to more people across the state.
"The governor came in and said he wants to make Kentucky the manufacturing hub of the United States," said state Labor Cabinet Deputy Secretary Mike Nemes. "To do that you have to have skilled workers. You can't make anything if you don't have enough people to do it."
Expanding apprenticeship opportunities throughout the Commonwealth is a good way to do that, he said during an interview at The Gleaner office on Thursday afternoon. Nemes was in Henderson to present a Governor’s Safety and Health Award to Big Rivers Electric Corp. (See sidebar for more information about that.)
The Labor Cabinet's role has mostly been facilitating paperwork for businesses that were already utilizing apprenticeships correctly, Nemes said.
When Nemes and Labor Secretary Derrick Ramsey began their cabinet roles in Gov. Matt Bevin's administration, there was only one Cabinet worker who signed off on existing apprenticeship programs, most of which were union apprenticeships.
"They have done a fantastic job throughout the years," he said. "We wanted to expand it to help them out and to help non-union companies too. We think that apprenticeships are a great way to learn."
While the typical apprenticeships like plumbers, pipe fitters and electricians are offered, the Labor Cabinet is looking to bring apprenticeships to a variety of industries.
Norton Healthcare announced last month the creation of Kentucky's first registered apprenticeship for nurses. The Student Nurse Apprenticeship Program is a paid apprenticeship that provides educational and clinical experiences over 12 to 18 months in preparation for a registered nurse role after graduation, according to nortonhealthcare.com.
The apprenticeship is registered with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet.