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Preliminary Conclusions and Responses

This section outlines the preliminary conclusions drawn from the research, identifies some areas that call for further research, and lays out some general strategic responses that may be indicated, based on the preliminary evaluation of the data.

It is expected that the data produced by the Workforce Innovation Project will be analyzed repeatedly in the future - from different perspectives or in combination with other data - to produce additional conclusions and inform further strategies.


Job Skills
Employers clearly identified a set of job skills that are required for the current and future jobs in the region. However, it is important to note that the critical job skills required vary by industry. The identified critical job skills are listed below:

Mental Skills

  • Mathematical Computation
  • Critical Thinking Ability

Social Skills

  • Verbal Ability
  • Maintains Confidentiality
  • Instruct/Teach
  • Attentive Listener
  • Delegate
  • Works Well within a Team

Traditional Workplace Skills

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Computer/Technical Literacy
  • Plan
  • Collecting Data
  • Interpret Data
  • Make Decisions
  • Organized
  • Time Management
  • Keep Records
  • Budget
  • Follow Instructions

More than 25% of employers indicated that significant deficiencies exist within these areas.

Personal Traits

Employers identified several personal traits as essential for the sustainability of the workforce.  As with the job skills, the identified traits vary somewhat by industry.  The traits identified by the total sample of employers are listed below:

Personal Character Traits

  • Honesty
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

Motivation Traits

  • Continuous Improvement

Social Traits

  • Resolves Conflict
  • Team Player

Intellectual Traits

  • Effective Problem-Solver
  • Decision Maker
  • Willingness to Learn
  • Forward Thinking (to Future)


Job Growth

Overall, 68% of employers expect to experience some job growth in the next five years. Of the employers surveyed, those in the healthcare industry were the most optimistic with 80% forecasting job growth, followed by construction (75%), mining (70%), and general business (58%). The healthcare industry also had the highest level of confidence in their projections, with 80% stating they were extremely to very confident in their hiring projections. Healthcare was followed in confidence by general business (52%), construction (41%), and mining (40%).

Among the 68% of employers that plan to hire over the next five years, employers indicated they plan to hire people for 53 positions, on average. This represents a 31% growth in jobs. Employers in healthcare anticipate hiring people for 121 jobs, followed by those in mining (55 jobs), general business (25 jobs) and construction (18 jobs).

Distribution of Planned Jobs

Among the total sample of employers, the majority of the positions that were projected to be created will be in the Associate/Line Worker category (30 jobs), followed by the Coordinator category (19 jobs) and Supervisor category (17 jobs). Employers also projected that six new positions will be distributed across the Manager, Professional, Director, Vice President and Senior Executive categories.

Within the healthcare industry, employers projected an almost equal distribution of jobs within three categories: Associate/Line Worker (53 jobs), Coordinator (53 jobs), and Supervisor (60 jobs). Approximately, nine jobs were projected across the senior-most levels of the organization.

Put another way, 41% of the new jobs projected will positions at the Associate/Line Worker level, followed by 27% at the Coordinator level, and 24% at the Supervisor level. The remaining positions will be distributed across senior management positions.

Education Required

Employers predicted that the clear majority (82%) of future jobs across the four surveyed industries will require an associate’s degree or greater, as shown in the table below.

Education/Training Needed for Planned Jobs
(by Industry Sector)


Health Care



General Business



Vocational Training







Associates Degree







Bachelors Degree














Strategic Responses

EKCEP is considering the following strategic responses, based upon results of the Workforce Opportunity Project.

1. Develop Pathways to Quality Job Attainment and Success. Employers have made it very clear that they need qualified employees who have the necessary job skills and personal traits. They need them now and they will need them in the future. To help meet this need, EKCEP will improve the initial assessments of job seekers’ job skills and traits that is done when these clients come into EKCEP’s JobSight workforce centers. The improved assessment will incorporate the Holland Code approach to understanding workers and the work environments they thrive in.

2. Emphasize Sustainability Skills. The employers’ consistently said that the most critical elements missing from the workforce are the personal traits referred to as sustainability skills. These include: honesty, professionalism, willingness to learn, having a strong work ethic, being an effective problem-solver, knowing how to resolve conflicts, being a team player, and thinking toward the future. The employers clearly indicated that without these sustainability skills employees have little chance of succeeding in the workplace regardless of the level of their job skills. EKCEP is altering its service model to ensure that adequate emphasis is placed on developing sustainability skills and communicating to job seekers how crucial these skills are to their success.

3. Develop Public-Private Partnerships. To better assist employers in finding qualified employees and to better assist individual job seekers in finding quality jobs, EKCEP will expand the working relationships between its JobSight workforce centers and area employers through trained business services representatives.  Through their ongoing relationships with employers, the business services representatives will be aware of employers’ current and future workforce needs, allowing the JobSight and its partners in the workforce development system to tailor their services and training accordingly.  This should make JobSight locations workforce hubs and the “go-to place” for employers looking for qualified employees.

4. Ensure that Funding Follows the Need. EKCEP and EKCEP Workforce Investment Board will use the data generated by the Workforce Opportunity Project to ensure that Individual Training Account (ITA) funds are allocated and distributed based upon the needs identified by employers need for future workers regarding skills, indicated courses of study needed and degrees.

5. Develop an Eastern Kentucky Employer Network. EKCEP plans to develop, launch, and sustain a network of employers that share best practices and cutting edge research on workforce issues and the business of creating quality jobs in eastern Kentucky. This network of employers will have formal relationships with the JobSight network and the EKCEP Workforce Investment Board. Network members will provide ongoing and up-to-date information about employer needs and employment trends to EKCEP, and would be positioned to benefit from special training opportunities and programs that the workforce development system creates in response to network input. (For more detail about this network, see the results and recommendations from the Eastern Kentucky Innovative Employer Network Feasibility Study.)

6. Continue Developing and Strengthening Community Partnerships. EKCEP will continue to emphasize and strengthen its partnerships with community colleges, Adult Education, regional universities, the Office of Employment & Training, and other entities to develop or implement specialized curricula that would provide a credential of work readiness for workers in the region. Such curricula would address the soft skills and personality traits that employers have identified as critical to success. This may include but not be limited to developing a regional partnership service model that is based upon employer needs.

7. Integrate Findings from the Workforce Opportunity Project into the EKCEP Strategic Plan. EKCEP will develop a strategic plan along with EKCEP stakeholders that will include specific steps to meet the employers’ needs identified by the empirical research in the Workforce Opportunity Project. EKCEP will also consider establishing a process to assess success of these specific steps by using the study’s current findings as a benchmarking to measuring future results against.

8. Use the Workforce Opportunity Project Results to Assist and Empower Employers. Based on the survey data, EKCEP will develop a plan to assist area employers with in-house training needs focused on improving the employability and sustainability skills needed to retain talent. A major challenge in developing this plan will be dealing with the restrictions on spending WIA funds to train employed individuals.

9. Develop a Marketing Strategy to Position EKCEP and the JobSight Centers as the “Go-To” Place for Employers and Prospective Employees. The results of the Workforce Opportunity Project give EKCEP the information that will enable it to be a centralized resource for addressing employer needs in the region. A new or revised marketing strategy targeted to employers and prospective clients could publicize this capability. The strategy would brand EKCEP as the “go-to” place for an expanded array of business services that would enable employers to meet their stated goals.


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