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Manufacturing Education Program Expands Statewide in Kentucky

A program designed to benefit Kentucky's manufacturing sector is expanding statewide.

Gov. Steve Beshear made the announcement Wednesday at the Georgetown Toyota plant, where the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education initiative is already underway.

Under the program, sponsoring manufacturers pay for two years of student instruction, said Jay Box, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

"It requires a dedicated student because they are very structured in their education and in their work during this program," said Box. "But, it also gets them through in two years and that's quite an advantage."

Program participants attend classes two days a week at area community and technical colleges and work 24 hours per week for supporting employers. Upon completion of the program, students receive an associate degree in applied sciences and, in many cases, stay on to work full-time.

Greg Higdon, of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, said expanding the initiative may result in more firms locating in the commonwealth.

"So the states that have the better workforce are gonna generate and not only maintain their business here in manufacturing in a particular state, but also draw other manufacturers in," said Higdon.

Beshear said the concept may someday go beyond the manufacturing sector.

"I think the next step after that is to look at how this kind of approach can be taken into other areas, into high-tech areas, into a lot of different types of workplace environments, in addition to advanced manufacturing," said Beshear.