A broad-based regional coalition of public- and private-sector organizations and businesses was launched today to develop a strategy for attracting, educating, and graduating more advanced manufacturing students in Northern Kentucky.

The Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Coalition is in the formation stages and will be led by The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, and Gateway Community & Technical College, which operates The Center for Advanced Manufacturing at is Boone County campus. The Coalition was announced this morning following the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's Eggs and Issues monthly breakfast, which featured a presentation about the development of Gateway's Urban Campus in downtown Covington.

The Coalition is being formed in response to concerns raised in the business community -- in particular, the Northern Kentucky Industrial Park Association -- about the lack of a large enough pipeline of individuals who are educated and trained in the skills needed for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Janice Urbanik, executive director of Partners for a Competitive Workforce, an organization focused on meeting employer demands in the workforce, stated that the entire tri-state region is facing challenges in meeting the needs for skilled workers in a variety of sectors, including advanced manufacturing.

Developing the talent supply chain for the manufacturers in our region is a top priority for Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Urbanik said. We are excited to work with the Coalition and the Northern Kentucky community to develop and execute a plan that meets the needs of both employers and jobseekers.

Gateway President Dr. Ed Hughes said the school has been working to address the workforce shortage in advanced manufacturing for more than a decade.

Our faculty and staff continue to work with employers to assess their specific needs for skilled workers and then deliver the programs and training that addresses our part of the talent pipeline, Hughes said.

As a college, we recognize that we have more work to do to market these great careers to students of all ages, including high school students and graduates, adults who have been displaced, veterans, women, and seniors, he said. We certainly know there is a gap between industry needs for workers we can train and our ability to fully meet the need and we asked for help.

Gateway recently issued a Report to the Community: Gateway Community & Technical Colleges Role in Increasing the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Highway. The report called for a community-wide approach to overcoming the challenges of marketing advanced-manufacturing careers and training potential students for these careers.

Gateway can do its part, but as the report stated, this is a bigger issue than just Gateway, Hughes said. We are thrilled that the Report is a launching point for more broad-based effort to address this issue.
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Trey Grayson said the Coalition partners bring diverse experiences, expertise, and relationships to the unified effort.

My hope is that by getting all of these partners on board through a collective impact approach, we are very publicly pledging to address and solve this problem, Grayson said.

In addition to the Chamber, Gateway, and Tri-ED, the initial Coalition members include:

Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore;
Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery;
Kenton County Judge-Executive Steve Arlinghaus;
Partners for a Competitive Workforce;
Northern Kentucky University;
The Northern Kentucky Education Council;
Vision 2015;
Brighton Center;
Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (WIB);
Impact NKY;
Advanced Manufacturing Representatives;
Northern Kentucky Area Development District.

Grayson said the Coalitions work is just beginning and additional details will be announced at later date. The group is expected to produce additional specific strategies to address the gap between what the regions colleges, universities, and training organizations now produce and the needs of manufacturers.

Dan Tobergte, president and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, an agency charged with recruiting and growing jobs in the region, said he is encouraged by the Coalitions commitment to workforce development. He also pointed out that Gateway has excellent facilities, superb instructors, dedicated staff, and quality advanced-manufacturing programs.

A pipeline of skilled labor is critical to the success of Northern Kentucky, Tobergte said. We have tremendous assets in our community with the advanced-manufacturing industry and Gateway's Center for Advanced Manufacturing. This is another example of Northern Kentucky coming together as a community to collectively address this critical workforce-development need.

Also working with the Coalition is Impact NKY, the Chambers 501(c)(3) affiliate, which has identified key focus areas needed to close the gap on unfilled advanced-manufacturing jobs:
Marketing and awareness;
State and federal advocacy;
Talent pipeline development; and
Data collection.

This new Coalition will provide great oversight for the work that began a year ago under Impact Northern Kentucky, said Rhonda Whitaker of Duke Energy Kentucky, the immediate past chair of Impact NKY and who is now leading the collective impact workforce development efforts

Recently, at the suggestion of Vision 2015, we entered into discussions with several workforce partners about developing a collective impact model for capacity to move these focus areas forward and to develop a shared vision, Whitaker said.

Duke Energy will remain engaged in this work as it fits with our efforts to advance economic development opportunities for our region, Whitaker said. We need to make progress on this important matter for our communities and our employers.