Business group networks to determine needs

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt County Public School superintendent Keith Davis recently got to go on a field trip.

And, on that trip, Davis learned a little more about what local industry is looking for from graduates of the school system.

Bullitt County Economic Development Authority director John Snider recently organized a meeting of the plant managers from various facilities in the area.

Various members of the community were invited to meet with the plant managers and that included a tour of several facilities.

“I learned a lot,” Davis told members of the Bullitt County EDA at a recent meeting.

Davis, who was joined by Brady Southwood, who leads the Bullitt County Area Technology Center, said there needs to be a relationship between the school district and those who operate businesses.

One thing learned was that there is a great need for new career paths in areas like industrial maintenance and global logistics.

Beginning with the Class of 2015, every student in Bullitt County must be college ready or have a career path certification.

If not, they will not graduate.

With so many distribution facilities in the county, Davis said he learned there is a need for skilled students to work. 

At this time, he said Southwood is working with the state, which operates the technology center, to allow a class in industrial maintenance.

With a teacher retiring at the end of the current school year, Davis said there would be an opportunity to add the program.

Snider said several businesses will donate equipment to the school for training.

Davis said there must be a push by the state to allow more career paths.

Snider said there is a need for trained employees at all the Bullitt County facilities.

If a student has a certificate from the technology center stating he or she has achieved a certain level, that could help them get a foot into the door of a business. And, they could then begin to work their way up.

Snider said while the talk of employees working for low wages had some truth at one time, those times are changing. And, he said, the workforce is changing in the county.

Many of the workers in the distribution facilities are older and have longer tenure with the companies.

EDA member Mark Stout said that the type of businesses attracted to the county will not change due to its unique location.

Being able to tailor an educational training system to the local needs will only help students.

Davis was impressed with the tour of businesses and Snider said it was a good opportunity for various parts of the community to get a look at what is actually happening in the county.

In the past, the county had a manufacturing roundtable group which met.

The current set up is for the plant managers to meet. Along with managers, human resource directors have typically joined the grop.

Snider said it is a good opportunity for the individuals to voice any concerns they might have.

The issue of creating an industrial maintenance program for high school students was of great interest and the offer of equipment was made by several.

EDA member Jerry Summers said the plant managers seemed pleased that the county is willing to listen to their concerns and then try to find solutions.

“They’re wanting to be included,” Summers said of the plant officials.

Issues voiced by the facility managers included quality of life issues, such as parks and recreation, health care and walking trails which were proposed for the Cedar Grove Business Park.

Stout said he was pleased to hear that the only thing being offered were not minimum wage jobs, which has long been an argument against the distribution jobs.

While the authority knew that the wage levels were not correct, he was pleased that others are now realizing it.

Snider said the plant manager meetings will continue each month through the late summer. At that time, they are very busy with the holiday rush.