KCTCS, SOAR to advance Eastern Kentucky economy, quality of life


The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) announced a three-year strategic partnership on Friday.

VERSAILLES – The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) announced a three-year strategic partnership designed to provide eastern Kentucky residents with the educational opportunities that lead to good jobs Friday.

As a result of the new partnership, one of the programs KCTCS will promote is a computer and information technology (CIT) track that prepares students to design, develop and maintain computer programs written in current and emerging programming languages, with an emphasis on coding careers. The schools will also support local entrepreneurship programs and guide students to appropriate job opportunities.

“KCTCS has an extensive footprint in the eastern part of the state with five colleges and 24 campuses, which are an integral part of the region’s economic development efforts,” said KCTCS President Jay K. Box. “We are committed to bringing our sizable resources together to assist SOAR in their vision of advancing the quality of life in eastern Kentucky.”

SOAR was established in 2013 by Gov. Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers to address the significant challenges confronting Appalachian Kentucky. Its mission is to advance and promote a resilient and diverse eastern Kentucky economy by providing leadership, vision and collaborative partnerships to support innovative regional practices and enhance public and private investments.

“We know that education is the strongest method for creating a viable workforce that will attract new business development,” said Gov. Beshear. “The breadth of KCTCS’s access in eastern Kentucky makes them a remarkable partner for SOAR and our efforts to provide meaningful educational opportunities and show companies that we are committed to effectively training a highly-skilled workforce.”

The five KCTCS colleges in the region include Ashland Community and Technical College, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Hazard Community and Technical College, Somerset Community College and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“Our community college system is an integral reason why our educational attainment levels are on the rise in eastern Kentucky and once again, KCTCS is opening new doors of opportunity for the people of eastern Kentucky,” said Congressman Rogers.

“This is another important link in the growing chain of partnership that will strengthen, extend and sustain the mission of SOAR to shape a better future for our region.”

KCTCS will develop curriculum to help close a skills gap in the state. Business and industry in the region have cited the critical need for skilled CIT workers. They are currently forced to outsource the work to other areas of the country and outside the U.S.

Another focus of the five KCTCS colleges will be to assist SOAR communities on creating/expanding current programs and fostering local entrepreneurial enterprises and other locally relevant job opportunities. It is predicted that most new jobs in the region will be created by entrepreneurs, and KCTCS currently serves as both a leader and catalyst for assisting fledgling businesses with their training and professional development needs.

The KCTCS-TRAINS program will serve as an important tool to support current and new employers in the region. The program is part of the Kentucky Skills Network, which is a partnership between the Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky Career Center, Labor Cabinet and KCTCS. Through KCTCS-TRAINS, companies are provided with funding to defray the costs of training and assessment services for current and potential employees to keep them competitive.

KCTCS will also support SOAR by using its many communication platforms to encourage prospective college students to enroll in programs and entrepreneurship courses that are aligned with the initiative and designed to transform the region’s economy.

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