As of next Thursday, Feb. 16, Office of Employment and Training staff will be removed from the Leitchfield Kentucky Career Center, located at 125 East Market St.
The removal of the staff comes as a result of the “reorganization” of the OET, which removes staff from 31 local OET offices across the state.
OET staff members affected by the reorganization were offered other state jobs depending on skills and seniority, according to Kim Brannock, of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
The reorganization comes a result of changes over the past two years regarding what services should be offered by the OET, which is funded through the Wagner-Peyser federal grant, Brannock said.
Recently, there has been a push to shift focus from unemployment services to employment and career development, said Brannock.
Additionally, the decision to reorganize the OET was motivated by its operating on a deficit for the past several years, according to Brannock.
Education and Workforce Development Secretary Hal Heiner issued the following statement regarding the reorganization of the OET:
The Office of Employment and Training (OET) in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet will be reorganized, effective Feb. 16, 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. This reorganization does not close these offices. The cabinet will work with the local Workforce Development Boards (WDBs), 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.
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.
This reorganization is necessary to create a firm foundation for the transformation of Kentucky’s workforce system. 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 will allow us to serve our customers and operate the state’s workforce services within the federal grant that we receive.
While the Leitchfield OET staff is being removed, the Lincoln Trail Workforce Development Board (LTWDB), in a press release issued on Thursday, Feb. 9, announced it has drafted a tentative plan to continue to provide job seeker and employer services in its service area, which includes Leitchfield, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
“The LTWDB maintains its longstanding commitment to our presence in those communities,” said Board Chairman Mo Miller in the release.
OET staff will, moving forward, provide services from the Career Center in Elizabethtown, which will serve as a regional hub; however, the LTWDB has requested that OET staff also provide services in Leitchfield two days per week.
The board has also requested support on an as-needed basis from the other Kentucky Career Center partners, including the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which will also no longer be offered in the Leitchfield Kentucky Career Center location, as well as the Office for the Blind (OFB).
“We understand job seekers and employers need Career Center services,” Miller said. “Our goal is to minimize the effect of OET budget cuts and ensure those services are no more than a 30-minute drive away from as many residents of the region as possible.”
The LTWDB’s requests are contingent upon future joint planning of the Kentucky Career Partners, including OET, so it has yet to be determined whether services will continue to be provided in Leitchfield and in what local location they would be offered.
Leitchfield is one of multiple cities in Kentucky that will no longer have a full-time OET staff.
Those cities also include Ashland, Bardstown, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Central City, Columbia, Corbin, Danville, Florence, Frankfort, Georgetown, Glasgow, Harlan, Henderson, Lebanon, Liberty, Louisville (Preston Highway), Madisonville (two locations), Mayfield, Maysville, Middlesboro, 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.
The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet will base full-time OET staff in area centers or hubs located in the following 12 communities: Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead, Owensboro, Paducah, Prestonsburg, and Somerset.
Eight other locations are part of these 12 organizational structures and 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.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.