Web-based job portal to target region’s work force

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Companies or individuals in Trimble County employing five or more people are encouraged to take part in a survey being conducted as part of a regional plan to connect the region’s workforce with jobs and educational opportunities.

Dubbed Wired65, the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development initiative is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and will extend throughout a 26-county region that includes Trimble. Based in Elizabethtown, Ky., the goal is to produce an online employment resource to serve business and industry as well as anyone in the region searching for work, according to KentuckianaWorks Executive Director Michael Gritton.

Customized by the Internet job-search giant Monster.com, the finished Web site will be “the first of its kind – a portal, where business information is available,” including what jobs are available, what skills potential employees may need for those jobs and where to find the training they need if they lack those skills, Gritton said.

WIRED is intended to boost the regional economy and support innovation and entrepreneureship by helping to link employers with the workforce they need, said coordinator Deb Wesslund.

“It benefits everyone to know what’s going on,” in terms of job openings and available workforce, Wesslund said. She gave as an example a recent situation for Bechtel, a subcontractor working to help build LG&E’s new power-generating addition at Trimble’s Wise’s Landing plant.

She said Bechtel, at one point, was looking for welders, but the company found it difficult to get the word out to potential employees with the skills needed for the work.

“Sharing information benefits the region, so no one is alone trying to figure it out,” she said.

“The beauty of this Web site is we will be putting at your fingertips all the [employment] information we have, in real time, across 26 counties,” Gritton said. “We want to make and improve their standard of living” has this information.

Gritton said his father landed a job at the Ford plant in Louisville with only a high school degree and two years in the U.S. Navy.

“But the culture is changing,” Gritton said. “You couldn’t walk in today and get a job at Ford the way he did,” because employers are looking for workers with more skills.

The Web site will not only tell job-seekers what’s available, but what skills are needed and where to get the training they need, he said.

And ultimately, the goal is to improve workforce skills in the entire region to attract companies looking to relocate or expand, he said.

Already on the Web

More information about the initiative is available at Wired65.org, which also includes comprehensive data profiling each county and comparing it to the region as a whole.

Trimble County, for example, is set for population growth at a higher rate than the region by 2030, however, the demographics aren’t expected to change much. In 2005, the percentage of people age 19 and younger was 28 percent; that is expected to drop slightly to 23 percent in 2030. The same is true for the percentages of young adults (ages 20-34) and experienced working-age adults (ages 35-64), which range from 18 percent and 42 percent, respectively, in 2005 to 18 percent and 40 percent in 2030.

Only the senior citizen population (ages 65 and older) is expected to grow substantially, from 11 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2030.

The profile also shows projections for job growth between 2008-18. Using census data, the study shows government to add the most jobs by 2018, with 56 new jobs created, an increase of 14 percent. Also showing growth are the sectors of trade and transport (54 added jobs, 22 percent increase), financial (32 jobs, 35 percent), leisure and hospitality (31 jobs, 65 percent), education and health (24 jobs, 27 percent), construction (20 jobs, 12 percent) and manufacturing (20 jobs, 36 percent.

The agriculture and professional services sectors show the slowest growth, with nine jobs added for each, an increase of 7 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Trimble County reflects the region in terms of workforce distribution, with 32 percent of workers considered “blue collar” (29 percent, regionally), 26 percent considered “professional and business” (24 percent) and 42 percent “service and support” (47 percent).