Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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Media Center

June 28, 2021 9:38am

From the Desk of the CEO 6.28.21

A lot has changed since I last updated you. With the lifting of the statewide mask mandate and elimination of all capacity restrictions, the future of our economic recovery is bright. However, the current workforce shortage is posing a serious threat to many businesses as they struggle to find staff and operate at full capacity.

This is a major concern for GLI and our investors. Workforce issues are nothing new for our region, however the pandemic has further complicated these challenges. We are taking a multifaceted approach by working with all levels of government and in our own capacity to help you and your business get the staffing you need.

A shortage in reliable childcare is a precipitating factor in the ongoing workforce crunch. Due to the pandemic, many childcare businesses permanently closed resulting to an eight percent reduction in facilities across the state. In addition, many facilities that did sustain through the pandemic are now facing the same shortage of workers leading to smaller capacities and openings. This is ultimately creating long waitlists and keeping many working parents out of the workforce.

We are pleased with the Governor’s announcement last week that over $763 million in federal funds will be allocated to stabilizing the childcare sector, however we know more supports are still needed. We are continuing to encourage both the local and federal governments to take action to stabilize this essential industry.

In addition, Governor Beshear announced a new workforce incentive program that will reward 15,000 participants with a $1,500 bonus for withdrawing from unemployment assistance and returning to the workforce. While we applaud any action to encourage workforce participation during this critical time, we are continuing to advocate that Kentucky out of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). This extra $300 payment boils down to a total compensation of over $17 per hour and makes it extremely difficult for employers to compete, even as many are increasing wages and enhancing benefit offerings. You can read a full letter that was sent to the Beshear administration from GLI and the other metro chambers of commerce here.

Government action is critical to solving this ongoing problem, but GLI is also taking action through the launch of our new Career Acceleration Network. This talent pipeline initiative is a two-year pilot that will move participants from low-wage, low-skilled jobs to higher-skilled jobs with a family-supporting wage. The ultimate goal is to provide increased and more equitable access to career mobility. This program has been in the works for many months, but the launch could not come at a more important time.

We have secured 15 participating employers that will offer over 50 unique roles in 5 career pathways that include business services, health care, hospitality, manufacturing, and technology. You can learn more about the program here and I encourage you to spread the word and refer any potential participants.

This program will be part of a long-term solution to our ongoing workforce struggles by allowing more opportunities for upward mobility regardless of education level or background. Stay tuned for information on our work to address Greater Louisville’s workforce challenges. The GLI team continues to advocate on your behalf and for the best interest of our regional economy.