Building Kentucky’s Future Workforce

KY FAME to expand its apprentice-style training program statewide

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 14, 2015) – Imagine how great it would be if somehow you could discover a high-paying, interesting career while earning a degree – with no college debt when it’s all over.

Imagine no more. Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) is expanding into a statewide organization.

KY FAME is a partnership of manufacturers that have teamed up to address the shortage of technically skilled workers needed in advanced manufacturing. KY FAME offers an innovative, apprentice-style education and training program designed to create one of the most highly skilled workforces in the world.

Program participants attend classes two days per week at their local community college and work an additional 24 hours per week for a sponsoring employer. Upon completion of the program, students receive an associate degree in Applied Sciences, and, with the practical skills gained during their paid work experience, most begin full-time employment with the sponsor. Others may decide to further their technical education to obtain an engineering degree.

“KY FAME provides tremendous benefits to both students and companies,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is a great opportunity for our state’s youth to gain the hands-on experience needed to achieve quality careers and gives companies a stronger workforce to choose from – both of which are very important components in growing our state’s economy. I’m excited to see KY FAME expand, and I look forward to the federation creating a statewide workforce that’s second to none.”

Now, in addition to the Bluegrass (central Kentucky) chapter, KY FAME is creating three new chapters in Greater Louisville, northern Kentucky and Elizabethtown/Lincoln Trail regions. The federation’s goal is to expand to all corners of the Commonwealth.

To facilitate the statewide expansion of the program, Gov. Beshear is announcing the creation of the KY FAME statewide board of directors. The board will work with communities and other companies to develop KY FAME chapters and programming throughout Kentucky. Board members include:

“It’s very exciting to see KY FAME grow in Kentucky,” said Kim Menke, manager of government affairs for Toyota. “Toyota helped launch KY FAME four years ago, and the program has produced tremendous results. I’m thrilled that more parts of the state will have the opportunity to support local companies and grow our manufacturing workforce across the Commonwealth.”

“KY FAME will have a significant impact on northern Kentucky,” said Mike Hirsch, vice president of operations at ZF Steering in Florence and president of the KY FAME Northern Kentucky Chapter. “I’m confident the program will provide real solutions to the workforce challenges facing our local manufacturers and provide a strong career path for our students.”

KY FAME isn’t just for the state’s largest employers. Danette Wilder, president and CEO of Lexington-based SealingLife Technology, has been using KY FAME for her small, minority-owned business for the past four years.

“KY FAME is a win for small businesses,” said Wilder. “Many small businesses have limited budgets, and KY FAME gives me a hands-on labor force at a competitive cost. The program has really helped my company thrive in central Kentucky.”

Tom Hudson, president of nth/works in Louisville, and president of the Greater Louisville chapter said, “Kentucky cannot fully participate in the manufacturing renaissance unless and until we solve the manufacturing skills gap. By aligning together and clearly defining our needs we can solve this problem by working with secondary and post-secondary schools and government to create a system that attracts, develops and retains skilled manufacturing talent.”

“Workforce development is one of the top issues facing Kentucky manufacturers,” said Greg Higdon, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM). “The KY FAME model presents an opportunity with unlimited potential for manufacturers to control their workforce needs. KAM is proud to be a part of the development and expansion of KY FAME.”

Created in 2010, the Bluegrass chapter of KY FAME has 16 companies, including Toyota, Link Belt, Commonwealth Tool and 3M. More than 40 students have completed the program and more than 60 students are currently enrolled.

“This program gives us the experience to go anywhere and work wherever we want to,” said Dalton Ballard, a KY FAME student working at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Georgetown. “I’ll have the choice of getting a high-paying job or continuing my education. That is what’s so great about KY FAME.”

To learn more about KY FAME, visit

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