It’s been said time and time again that “Education Pays” in Kentucky. But higher education needs to be affordable, and accessible, before it can pay off for all of us.
With the increasing cost of tuition and fees at four year colleges and universities, a growing number of Kentuckians are turning to the state’s community and technical college system to jump start their college career, and it’s easy to see why. Not only are the two year colleges less expensive than the state’s universities but they give Kentuckians the education and training they need to enter the workforce quickly. Two year colleges also lower the cost of a four year degree program for Kentuckians who are able to put their two-year associate’s degree credit toward many four year degree programs in the state.
Earning an associate’s degree would have been easier than ever before in Kentucky under House Bill 626, the free community college bill passed by the Kentucky General Assembly last session. The bill created a $33 million Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program that would have fully paid tuition and fees at any Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) institution, statewide, for all recent Kentucky high school graduates. Despite bipartisan passage in the General Assembly, unfortunately Governor Matt Bevin vetoed the bill, preventing thousands of students from taking advantage of this fantastic opportunity before it even had a chance to get started. He kept the money for the program in the state budget, however, but that’s a different story.
What we need to focus on today, in these days following Labor Day, is the importance of the Kentucky workforce to our state and what we need to do to expand that workforce and ultimately, the state’s economy. And that’s where both KCTCS and tried-and-true state workforce programs like KY FAME come into play.
KY FAME, or the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, is a partnership between manufacturers and local educational institutions that prepares students for a career in manufacturing through completion of an AMT (Advanced Manufacturing Technician) five-semester certification program. Those who are accepted into KY FAME attend classes at a local community college part of the week and receive on the job training 24 hours a week at a local employer, with pay. Those who successfully complete the program will earn an associate’s degree in Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance Technology/AMT track, as well as 68 to 71 hours of college credit, two years of work experience, and AMT certification. Best of all, they are ready to enter the workforce full time with potentially no school debt.
It almost seems too good to be true, but it’s not. KY FAME is real and it’s available across most of the state from Northeast Kentucky to far west Kentucky.
And the program is not necessarily limited to adults. It is also becoming a career pathway for high school students in some areas where it is offered as a dual credit/early college plan, allowing seniors to finish high school while getting the training they need for a fulfilling career.
If a student chooses to take their associate’s degree and the experience they have earned in the workforce and pursue a bachelor’s degree, he or she can do so. Another option promoted by KY FAME is an engineering track that allows KY FAME graduates to work toward an engineering degree at the University of Kentucky. According to the program: “Students who graduate from the KY FAME program before entering into UK’s engineering program have a definite advantage. They have a much broader base of knowledge through their training as a multi-skilled technician… The combination of the two programs is what creates potentially the most sought out and well qualified new engineers in the job field.”
I encourage you to log onto KYFAME.com and read about the program for yourself. You can find out exactly what a typical work week looks like for a KY FAME student, what technical skills are developed through the program, and what personal behaviors and manufacturing core skills are honed. You will also find a complete list of current KY FAME locations along with the name of a contact person and their email address. These are the people you or your friends or family will want to become acquainted with if you want to pursue the KY FAME experience.
Representative Dean Schamore represents District 10 in the House of Representatives, serving Breckinridge, Hancock and parts of Hardin County. He can be reached at 502-564-8100Legislative Update