Lexington city officials this week are discussing ways to enhance workforce training strategies. Members of the council’s budget committee heard Tuesday from Commerce Lexington. Council member Amanda Mays-Bledsoe says recent graduates are frustrated with the job search process. “We promise so many people jobs if they get a four year degree," said Mays-Bledsoe. "And then they get a degree in something and they end up as a waitress or they end up in the service industry because they can’t find a job in what they wanted to do. There was no job to be had in that industry, especially in our area.”
Betsy Dexter, head of Commerce Lexington’s Business and Education Network, told committee members she will be working with industry experts and education officials to develop a plan to address the work skills gap. “We need to dig a little deeper and find some data that shows us what jobs are needed now and what jobs are needed in the future,” said Dexter.
Dexter says a 2013 study showed health care jobs make up 16 percent of the Fayette County workforce. She says it’s estimated that health care positions will grow 22 percent or more between now and 2022.
Council member Kevin Stinnett says linking training with employers’ needs is of utmost importance. “This is a topic that’s probably on the forefront of most of our lists of priorities from the community," Stinnett said. "And obviously with the data you presented today there’s a strong correlation between education and wages, which is a big issue here.”
Dexter told committee members the average annual pay for someone without a high school degree is about $16,000. She says a high school graduate could expect to make $25,000 a year, compared to $58,000 a year for someone with a graduate degree. Dexter is schedule to return to Council in January to spell out a workforce training strategy.