On Oct. 4, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, in partnership with Kentucky Skills U, held a career fair for residents within the ARH service area who do not have a high school diploma or GED. During the career fair, ARH hiring managers conducted on-site interviews, while KY Skills U staff helped enroll candidates in GED courses.
Many of the jobs available at the career fair were entry level, however, higher positions were also listed, and the program will help people work towards achieving those goals, according to ARH officials.
“We are very excited about rolling out an opportunity for employment for entry level positions at ARH for applicants without a GED,” said Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Director Human Resources, Sonya Bergman.
The career fair, ARH officials said, was part of a pilot program to help people further their education and careers with the help of ARH and their sponsors, which include Kentucky Skills U, Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. and the United Steelworkers.
“Education is the key ingredient for Kentuckians seeking to be successful in today’s competitive workforce,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey. “We encourage more employers to take advantage of adult education and career services that our cabinet offers to help equip Kentuckians with the skills and education needed to have long term careers and financial success.”
“The main reason that we are hosting this career fair is to pilot a new partnership that we are proud to announce that we have partnered with Kentucky Skills U and EKCEP,” said Dylon Baker, a corporate recruiter for ARH’s Talent Acquisition Department. “It will give the opportunity to residents of eastern Kentucky who do not have their high school diploma or GED the ability to further both their education and their careers,” he continued.
Baker said that his team was surprised at the large number of Kentucky individuals who do not have a high school diploma or GED, and they wanted to try to reduce that number as much as possible.
“There are 335,000 residents in the state of Kentucky ages 18-64 without a high school diploma or GED,” said Baker. “When we heard those numbers, we saw that as an opportunity to offer 335,000 residents the ability to get into health care, to further their education and to further their careers at the same time.”
60,000 of those 335,000 Kentucky residents without a high school diploma or GED, Baker said, are within the ARH service areas, so it made sense for the company to begin offering assistance, he said.
While researching for the program, Baker said they found that many of the reasons people did not continue or further their educations and careers were because of scheduling and financial reasons.
“One of the major reasons people do not go back and further their educations is due to the fact that they can’t find that balance between work and education,” Baker said. “We found it was a major financial burden for people to later on in their life go back and further their education.”
This pilot program, Baker said, will help ease the stress of financial issues that arise in educational settings and eliminate the issues of scheduling. ARH, Baker said, will cover all GED testing costs, and Kentucky Skills U will offer free GED preparatory courses. Additionally, Baker said, ARH’s flexible work schedules will enable qualifying candidates to participate in these free on-site classes. Assistance programs from a variety of community partners are also available in order to ensure success in the classroom and the workforce, said Baker.
“Our ultimate goal is to take this system-wide,” said Baker. “We are the largest healthcare system is eastern Kentucky and we now own and operate 13 hospital organizations and 87 clinics,” he said, explaining that the company plans to begin piloting the program in other larger facilities in the next few months.
“I think people will jump on this phenomenal opportunity just because this is something that has not been done in this state before,” said Baker.
Baker said if anyone interested in participating in the program was unable to attend the career fair, they are welcome to attend one of the open interviews held at ARH every Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Baker also said interested individuals can call the organization’s hot-line, 1-855-WORK-ARH, to learn more.