Pikeville Medical Center is working with the state of Kentucky and local colleges for a new apprenticeship program, PMC and state and local officials announced at a press conference on Friday.
The program, PMC CEO Donovan Blackburn said, provides employment opportunities for high school students to gain dual credit and for adults interested in getting their General Education Development (GED) certificate or a college degree while working at PMC.
Blackburn said adults entering the program will begin entry-level positions at PMC while working toward their GED certificate, and PMC will reimburse them for the price of GED testing. The employee will receive a raise upon completion.
“This program is not only needed, but it will be transformational in so many ways for people who are older,” Blackburn said.
Derrick Ramsey, Secretary of Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said that discussing the significance of getting a “second chance” by receiving a GED certificate is personal for him, as his mother received her GED certificate about five years after he graduated from the University of Kentucky.
PMC will collaborate with Kentucky Advanced Technical College High (K-TECH), the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) and Skills U, which provides free adult education services in Kentucky, to provide the new apprenticeship program.
Ramsey said that there are about 129,000 available jobs in the state, and that number is expected to rise by 2030. He said that this new program will help give a “second chance” to people who dropped out of high school or who did not finish college in order to fill those jobs.
“We have to keep doing these collaborations,” Ramsey said. “We have to all work together to make this thing happen.”
Kentucky state Sen. Phillip Wheeler, Rep. John Blanton, EKCEP executive director Jeff Whitehead and Skills U executive director Reecie Stagnolia gave remarks at the press conference, describing the importance of the program for the future of the region.
“This isn’t that hard, folks,” Whitehead said. “There are jobs that need to be filled, and there are people who need to be prepared to take those jobs.”