Workforce & Education

Strengthening Workforce and Education

Our commitment to playing an active role in developing a skilled workforce pipeline is unwavering. This dedication also includes helping to shape the next generation of employees. Through proactive involvement in numerous education and workforce initiatives, we’re working to deliver real-world workforce solutions that meet current and future demands. Below is a snapshot of some of the great workforce assets and initiatives moving our region forward.


Civilian Labor Force

Labor Participation Rate

Unemployment Rate

June 2019

Counties certified as work ready or work ready in progress
Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ communities are proving they have the vision, collaboration and workforce quality to surpass any employer’s goals. Nearly 80 percent of our region has been state-certified as either a Work Ready or a Work Ready in Progress Community. This certification is an assurance to business and industry that our communities are committed to providing the highly skilled workforce required to meet industry needs. For more information about the Work Ready Communities program, please visit

Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative
Thanks to the Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative, more than $80 million is being pumped into our region to expand career and technical education facilities and upgrade equipment. Through locally driven partnerships between private industry and educational institutions, state and local funds are being leveraged to build a highly trained, modernized workforce through tailored projects that meet area needs. For more information about the numerous great projects happening across the state, visit the Work Ready Skills Initiative website.

Led by industry, the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) is a partnership of regional manufacturers whose purpose is to implement career pathway, apprenticeship-style training that will create a pipeline of highly skilled workers. With seven local chapters throughout the region, manufacturers of all sizes and industry sectors have access to high-achieving students and veterans. Participating companies provide part-time, hands-on work experience while local community colleges reinforce employer-driven curriculum in the classroom. For more information about KY FAME, visit


Funds awarded to expand career and technical education facilities

Teachers Achieved National Certification

SOAR-STEAM Initiative

Average Annual Wage

(All Industries 2018)

Residents with associates degree or higher

SOAR-STEM Initiative

Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives continues to be a leader in the journey to create the largest STEM-based workforce in the country. Through the SOAR-STEM initiative, our team has worked to bring about transformational change by creating a workforce ready for high-skill, high-wage jobs in a targeted 25-county region. In collaboration with industry, education and community leaders, we are making strides toward this goal. Click to the right to learn how the SOAR-STEM initiative is cultivating an ecosystem that fosters and develops skillsets necessary to attract economic development opportunities to the region.

Project Lead The Way

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate and community partners, help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in our global economy. Through the SOAR-STEM initiative, we have implemented PTLW into targeted Eastern Kentucky schools, ensuring students get the best STEM-based education possible. PLTW’s success in preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed has been recognized by colleges and universities, Fortune 500 businesses and numerous national organizations.

More about PLTW

National Board Certification for Teachers

Recognized as the gold standard in teacher certification, the National Board believes higher standards for teachers means better learning for students. Today only a small fraction of America’s teachers—about three percent—are Board-certified. To develop and retain quality STEM-based educators in our region, the SOAR-STEM initiative has made it possible for 100 teachers to date to receive board certification. This has not only elevated the quality of education, but has provided career advancement opportunities to the teachers themselves, as well as rank change.

More about Board Certification