Kentucky Career Centers will be reorganized effective Feb. 16, affecting 95 employees and thousands of people who utilize their services.
According to a statement from Hal Heiner, Education and Workforce Development Secretary, the Office of Employment and Training in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet will be reorganized into 12 hubs and eight existing satellite offices from its current 51 Kentucky Career Centers to make the current workforce system more efficient and balance a shortfall in federal funding.
“The reorganization only affects the OET staff that is located in the 31 local offices that are part of the reorganization—not our local partners and other agencies,” according to the statement.
This reorganization does not close these offices, according to Kim Brannock, spokesperson for the Department of Education and Workforce Development.
“The cabinet will work with the local Workforce Development Boards and other state and local partners and officials to determine if the affected local offices will continue to operate and how best to deliver those services,” she added.
The cabinet will base full-time Office of Employment and Training staff in area centers or “hubs” located in 12 communities: Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead, Owensboro, Paducah, Prestonsburg and Somerset.
Eight other locations are connected with the 12 organizational structures and are not affected by the reorganization, and will also continue to offer employment services. The eight locations are Fort Knox, Mount Sterling, Whitesburg, McKee, Manchester, Jackson, Monticello and Albany. EWDC will work with local workforce development boards to determine future service delivery models and staffing levels at these locations.
Middlesboro and Harlan are two of the centers that will no longer have full-time OET staff, according to the statement.
Other locations that will no longer have full-time OET staff are: Ashland, Bardstown, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Central City, Columbia, Corbin, Danville, Florence, Frankfort, Georgetown, Glasgow, Henderson, Lebanon, Leitchfield, Liberty, Louisville (Preston Highway), Madisonville (two locations), Mayfield, Maysville, Murray, Pikeville, Richmond, Russell Springs, Shelbyville, Shepherdsville, Springfield and Winchester. Three of those offices — Columbia, Liberty and Springfield — only have part-time OET staff that come to the office once a week.
Brannock stated that there are many more services in the Kentucky Career Centers, and it will be up to the local workforce board to decide what they are going to do after the reorganization.
For the average person who needs to sign up for unemployment benefits, Brannock said that they can go to one of the hubs, sign up online or sign up on their phone. She added that there may be someone available at the local library at times, but those decisions haven’t been made yet.
“We want to make our services available 24/7 through technology,” she said.
All of the 95 employees affected by this reorganization will be given the opportunity to transfer from the affected locations to another position within the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet or offered a transfer opportunity to another cabinet within state government, she said.
It is currently unknown what local staff will do after the reorganization.
“This reorganization is necessary to create a firm foundation for the transformation of Kentucky’s workforce system,” according to Heiner’s statement. “It will align OET’s federal funding with its services and begin to develop a hub and satellite office system across the Commonwealth that will be consistent with recent federal legislation.”
“We strongly believe that this plan is in the best interest of the employers, job seekers and tax payers of the Commonwealth,” it continued. “It will allow us to serve our customers and operate the state’s workforce services within the federal grant that we receive.”
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.