Gateway launches Education First Employers program to link local businesses with trained workforce | GCTC

Gateway launches Education First Employers program to link local businesses with trained workforce

Published on Aug 24, 2023

KCTCS Education First Employer: Engage. Employ. Empower.Gateway Community & Technical College is proud to partner with Northern Kentucky’s leading companies to strengthen our area’s workforce while improving access to higher earning potential. Businesses in Kentucky’s key sectors including Healthcare, Manufacturing, Skilled Trades, and many others that are committed to attainable education and investing in their workforce will now hold the title Education First Employer.

Companies that qualify to participate in this program share similar values and have shown a commitment to go above and beyond to support employees through education and training. To achieve the Education First Employer designation, businesses must provide tuition assistance, flexible scheduling, and offer competitive wages. These businesses must also actively partner with Gateway to enhance students’ employability skills and better position graduates for high earning potential in today’s economy.

“Kentucky is welcoming historic economic investments that are creating thousands of great new jobs. At the same time, we’re also seeing rising wages and record low unemployment,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The Education First Employers initiative will make sure this rising prosperity reaches every Kentuckian where they live. It will also help us keep our promise to provide the best workforce for the increasing number of employers choosing our state to do business.”

The majority of students leaving higher education are making an impossible choice, forced to put their finances and work schedule before their pursuit of a better life. Education First Employers are working with Gateway to reverse this troubling trend.

“Gateway is committed to partnering with local companies, increasing the skill level of our workforce and bettering the lives of our learners,” said Gateway President, Fernando Figueroa. “As labor participation rates remain below pre-pandemic levels, this alliance offers a solution through increased access to attainable education. In turn, we aim to increase program completion rates, the skill level of our workforce and the standard of living in our communities.”

Gateway is now looking to expand the initiative, inviting companies who are investing in workforce development to sign the Education First Employer. A full listing of current participating companies can be found at

Businesses interested in pursuing the Education First Employer distinction can visit or contact Kelly Heckman with the KCTCS Workforce and Economic Development Office to learn more.