Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) is working with the Pike County/Pikeville Independent school systems and Kentucky’s Education & Workforce Development Secretary, Derrick K. Ramsey, to develop new career pathways for high school students in this area.

Secretary Ramsey traveled to PMC to meet with Pike County Schools Superintendent Reed Adkins, Pikeville Independent Schools Superintendent Jerry Green and the area’s high school principals. At the meeting, Secretary Ramsey announced plans for a three-year $627,000 grant, starting immediately, that will launch an apprenticeship program for high school students enrolled in these schools.

“PMC is proud to be partnering with Secretary Ramsey in this apprenticeship initiative and we are grateful to him for visiting with the key members of the Pike County and Pikeville Independent Education System,” said PMC Vice President of the Board of Directors and CEO Donovan Blackburn. “This grant to help put students on a path toward meaningful employment opportunities not only sets them up for a brighter future, but also creates a stronger workforce that will enable the hospital to continue to grow. I applaud Secretary Ramsey and Governor Matt Bevin for their vision and support of our request to grow the health care workforce in our region.”

Secretary Ramsey has committed to help launch Kentucky Advanced Technical College High (K-TECH), the state’s apprenticeship program in partnership with Big Sandy Community and Technical College (HCTC), Pikeville Medical Center, the Pike County School System and the Pikeville Independent School System.

“K-TECH offers an excellent opportunity for Pike County to utilize apprenticeships as an avenue for fostering the skills of our future workforce,” said Ramsey. “By merging apprenticeship and education, Kentucky is able to build career pipelines that ensure our students are prepared to successfully transition and excel in a competitive workforce.”

With a focus on two of the state’s fastest-growing job sectors, which are healthcare and IT, the grant supports Kentucky’s efforts to prepare the future workforce. Through the program, students will have the opportunity to meet potential employers, take dual credit course work, receive soft skills training and participate in paid apprenticeships.

The goal is to help students obtain the skills needed for them to succeed in the workforce by placing between 90 to 100 Kentucky high school students into paid apprenticeships each year, for the next three years.

Both the area superintendents are optimistic about how this new initiative will positively impact their student body.

“In the last six years, Pike County schools have lost around 1,700 students due to the lack of stable jobs in the area,” said Adkins. “We are hopeful that this program can help us retain good students who can be trained for well-paying jobs and stay in the area they have known their whole lives.”

“An internship at PMC means that our students will create a network of contacts and mentors they can rely on later in life,” said Green. “I am excited to see what is available for our students and to watch their careers unfold.”

The demand for healthcare workers continues to increase year after year. This is primarily driven by the aging baby boomers, who represent 25 percent of our total U.S. population. As PMC continues to expand service lines, skilled employees are needed to staff these growing areas.