BSCTC to host forum on role of higher education in workforce development

September 6, 2013

PRESTONSBURG – Big Sandy Community and Technical College will host a forum on the role of higher education in workforce development, Thursday, Sept. 12, from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., in the Gearheart Auditorium on the Prestonsburg Campus.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson highlights a group of panelists who will talk about the critical role higher education has played in workforce development in Eastern Kentucky past, present and future. As the former mayor of Louisville, Abramson led major expansion in the greater Louisville area, including the expansion of the Louisville International Airport, revitalizing the city’s waterfront and luring international companies like YUM! Brands to locate their headquarters to the city.

Former Secretary of Education Laura Emberton Owens, Sen. Ray S. Jones II and BSCTC President/CEO Dr. George D. Edwards will also serve as panelists.

“The dialogue between higher education and workforce is critical to meeting the demand of an emerging and changing economy,” said Dr. Edwards, who has represented Kentucky on the board of the Southern Association of Community and Technical Colleges since 2006. “As a community and technical college, we stand ready and willing to train the workforce of today and tomorrow.”

Sen. Jones, of Pikeville, said the conversation between higher education and workforce is needed now more than ever.

“Our region has experienced thousands of layoffs in the coal industry alone,” Jones said. “It’s time that we talk about what this means to our region, and how we can help these people use their transferrable skills to find careers where they can remain in the region and take care of their families.”

Dr. Tom Matijasic, professor of history at BSCTC, said the college has a storied history of being on the frontlines of workforce development. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson visited the Mayo State Vocational School, as it was recognized as one of the most progressive and innovative schools of its time. This year, the Mayo Campus is celebrating its 75th anniversary. BSCTC’s Prestonsburg Campus is celebrating 50 years, and Big Sandy Community and Technical College is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“Workforce development remains a key figure in our mission,” said Dr. Matijasic. “I hope this forum will celebrate our role as one of the most important institutions in Eastern Kentucky in regards to workforce development; listen to ideas of some key leaders in the state in regards to this issue; and make sure our leaders understand we are important to any plans to alter and improve workforce development in Kentucky.”

The event, which is being sponsored by BSCTC’s Anniversary Committee, is free and open to the public. Additional information is available by contacting, Dr. Thomas D. Matijasic at (606) 889-4768 or by e-mailing thomas.matijasic@kctcs.edu.