Representing the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc. (EKCEP), Business Services Coordinator Deana Robertson was the guest speaker at the regular monthly meeting of the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. Robertson said during her presentation “there are jobs in eastern Kentucky.”
“I have jobs that I can’t fill,” said Robertson. “The trick is getting the laid off coal miners, who are used to making $28 an hour, to work for $15 an hour. It’s a huge transition. There’s a big gap. So, we do have jobs, don’t let anyone tell you we don’t. “
Chamber member Roger Fannin asked Robertson in what sector are eastern Kentucky jobs located.
“As a state, Kentucky identified sectors so that we could target,” said Robertson. “In our area, the four areas we target are construction, mining, business services and health care. Believe it or not, there is a lot of building and developing happening in our area. Pike County is getting ready to get a strip mall and they need 600 retail workers. That county doesn’t have 600 retail workers, so they are going to have to get some of those workers outside Pikeville’s city limits. How do they do that when there is no transportation? Those are the kind of things we are facing rather than where are the jobs. There are tons of construction jobs to get that mall built and we’re seeing an increase in health care jobs with the mandate of electronic records.”
Acting Chamber Chairman Aimee Blanton said in Harlan County people are not seeing what Robertson is saying as far as jobs being available. She said Pike Countians may be seeing this, but not Harlan Countians.
“I’m not ashamed to say that Harlan County is one area that is probably neglected because I don’t live here,” said Robertson.” I have to depend on employers to call me and tell me they are hiring.”
Fannin said the people of Harlan County “don’t take it personally because they are used to being ignored” in a lot of things.
Local businessman Pete Poynter asked how do employers overcome the fact that a lot of unemployed workers can make more sitting at home drawing unemployment and receiving food stamps, than going out to a minimum wage job.
“I wouldn’t worry about them,” said Robertson. “I’d worry about those people who want to work. We have job clubs in this area and every other county we serve. It’s a support group for job seekers. If you are hiring just give me a call. Give us your minimum requirements of what people need to have to do that job and we’ll make sure you don’t get anybody that doesn’t meet those requirements. We provide a network of people working for you.
“Our theory is that if we do more leg work on the front end to get the right person in the job, the retention will be higher for employers. They’ll keep people longer and the turn over will be less. With the fast forward to work training, we think going over how to communicate and getting what this person is really cut out to do mentally, physically and emotionally that more leg work on the front will keep them in the job longer.”
For more information on EKCEP, you may contact Robertson by email at email@example.com, visit their website at www.ekcep.org or call (606) 435-8485.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org