Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and Warren County Area Technology Center Collaborate to Start Careers for Recent Graduates

Published Monday, June 1, 2015

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. –June 1, 2015 – In March of 2015, the business community was called upon to assist the Warren County Area Technology Center (ATC) in raising enough funds to ensure the ATC students had the resources they need to sit for the professional certification exams needed for employment after graduation. Nine companies including Davert; Martin Automotive; Metals and More; Robinson Construction; Scott, Murphy and Daniel, LLC; Shiloh Industries; Stewart-Richey; Stoody-Victor Technologies; and Tri-Star Greenview Regional Hospital stepped up to raise nearly $15,000 in cash and supplies to make those certifications a reality.  

 Upon the success of that initiative, the Chamber set a goal to have a job offer for all graduating seniors at the ATC who have obtained their industry certification and are seeking employment. Since then, the Chamber has worked collaboratively with the ATC and the business community to identify needed skill sets and certifications for open positions and to ensure those skill sets and certifications are available in the local workforce.  Today, the Chamber reported the latest results in its quest to ensure a viable talent pipeline for businesses in South Central Kentucky:

According to Warren County ATC Principal Eric Keeling, all career ready seniors seeking employment have been placed in careers.  With salaries ranging from $11.27 per hour plus benefits to over $15.50 per hour plus benefits, the ATC graduating seniors have obtained employment or are being considered for employment with local companies including Bowling Green Metalforming, Cannon Automotive Solutions, Clark Beverage Group, KOBE Aluminum Automotive Products, Martin Automotive, Stewart Richey Construction, and Stupp Bridge Company.  

Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch said, “I would like to thank our fantastic partners in the business community for stepping up to ensure the students at the Area Technology Center had the resources they need to sit for their professional certifications and for offering them attractive employment opportunities that will start them on a rewarding career path.  Their generosity and vision far exceeded our expectations.  This is just another inspiring example of the great things that can be achieved when businesses and education work together toward common goals.”

“As an educator, we are always seeking opportunities to identify the passion in each individual student.  Whether they get excited about fabricating a trailer from blueprints and raw materials in the Welding Program, building a Tiny House from a set of blueprints and a stack of lumber in Construction, or listening to the roar of an engine they just finished rebuilding, when we find their passion we can cultivate it and foster a relationship that leads to skill sets required by our industry partners.  We grow that passion with project based learning while embedding the academic standards necessary for successful completion.  The real-world application of academics addresses the “why” they need to know the academic concept.” Said Warren County ATC Principal Eric Keeling.    

The partnership with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce started from a meeting discussing ideas about how to best serve our students and address the deficiencies in the talent pipeline.  Over the last two years, the synergy that grew as partners were added to the team ignited an excitement about the students enrolled at the Warren County ATC and generated support and resources to ensure the students’ success.  The donations made to the ATC provided the funds to pay for all preparatory students’ industry certifications.  Additionally, the ATC enjoyed an 84% pass rate for the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), 30 of 30 (100%) received an AWS Welding Certificate, 23 of 26 earned Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificates, 13 of 13 earned Strata or A+ certificates, and 21 of 23 earned the NCCER Construction certificate.  These numbers are powerful. The business community’s contribution not only provided successful students with a sense accomplishment while validating their skill sets, but also provided them with the industry certifications required for employment.  Across Kentucky schools are struggling to meet the accountability measures for college and career readiness.  The synergy surrounding the students through the partnership with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and business and industry has established the Warren County ATC as a flagship school for college and career readiness.  The initiatives to address the needs of our industry partners, the seamless transitions into career pathways or KCTCS, and the approach to college and career readiness at the ATC will provide a model for student success on both state and national levels.

In addition to the previous collaboration with the ATC, the Chamber announced earlier this week the “On Track” initiative aimed at integrating STEM curriculum with motorsports education.  The program will follow the rebuild of two late model Chevrolet Camaros. Through this ongoing program, students will be exposed to several different academic disciplines including the STEM disciplines, general business, accounting, finance, and marketing. Through initiatives like these, the Chamber has shown the importance of a demand-driven workforce system, as well as the viability of such programs in our community.

The high percentage of students at the Warren County Area Technology Center who have obtained their professional certifications and gone on to get jobs in their chosen field quickly upon graduation is a testament to the leadership and vision of Warren County ATC Principal Eric Keeling. He has worked collaboratively with the business community to identify the skills needed to fill the talent pipeline and ensure his students have those skills and certifications.  Once again, the synergy between the educational and private sectors has created a valuable tool in developing the talent pipeline for South Central Kentucky.  

 The number one priority of the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is to ensure that the business community in Southcentral Kentucky has access to the highly skilled talent they need to succeed. The Chamber commends the efforts of our partners in the business community as well as the education community. With minimal funding and a single position funded by the City of Bowling Green and Warren County, the Chamber has now identified 980 open positions. To date, the Chamber reports that 301 positions are now filled, including the 36 employment offers made to ATC graduates. 

 For more information on the Warren County ATC, please visit their website at http://www.warrencountyschools.org/Content/1198 

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 About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:

Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,200 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region. Learn more about South Central Kentucky’s advantages at http://www.southcentralky.com/.