Eastern Kentucky is heading towards a bright future.
Together, we’ve persevered through these last few decades of economic uncertainty. With each passing day, know that our tenacity will soon pay off. Change is on the horizon.
Our #1 question for a long time has been: How can we connect more of our residents with gainful employment? And how can we attract new career opportunities to our region and help our communities thrive?
The answer: The tech industry continues to grow at a fast clip — and it’s providing some of the most well-paid careers in the United States. But while tech accounts for 15% of all jobs across the country right now, only 4% of tech employees live in rural places.
KY PATH is a statewide effort dedicated to closing this gap by leveraging new tech industry opportunities to bolster our regional economy. It’s poised to bring a game-changing level of jobs and investment into our communities.
Part of our work is to prepare Eastern Kentuckians to go after high-paying tech careers, whether they’re right here in our backyard or available remotely. We need to ensure locals can take full advantage of this economic transformation, and it’s up to us to help them get the training they need to qualify for these high-tech jobs.
SOAR and our partners are pleased to announce a project within KY PATH that will tackle this problem head-on: the Appalachian Digital Training Center. Soon, this training center will be helping hundreds of Eastern Kentuckians upskill and reskill for the careers of today and tomorrow.
Let’s explore what the Appalachian Digital Training Center is, who it’s for, what we hope to achieve, and how you can get involved.
Meet the partners making the Appalachian Digital Training Center possible
This training center was designed by people who live in Eastern Kentucky and are committed to a prosperous future for our region.
SOAR and our partners are teaming up with higher education, instructional design, and career training experts to bring the Appalachian Digital Training Center to life.
SOAR is also working closely with industry experts at Deloitte, Salesforce, and Coastal Cloud to ensure we’re training residents for the tech jobs of the future.
What is the Appalachian Digital Training Center?
KY PATH is promoting Eastern Kentucky as a great place to live, work, and play.
A significant part of this effort is ensuring our people have access to the high-tech workforce opportunities coming to our region. This is especially important as the area prepares for an influx of agritech-related jobs, and more residents gain access to remote positions through high-speed broadband access.
The vision of the Appalachian Digital Training Center is to empower Eastern Kentucky’s young residents with the desire and the potential to pursue advanced, tech-enabled careers.
Our mission is to prepare students for the 21st-century workforce and help them secure career opportunities that don’t require them to leave home.
Together, we’ll be building on this momentum to help residents prepare for high-tech career paths via the Appalachian Digital Training Center.
What types of training will the Center offer?
The Appalachian Digital Training Center will focus on building skills that are in high demand today and predicted to continue increasing in need well into the future.
Three such areas are software development, coding, and cybersecurity.
Experts predict the cybersecurity industry will increase by 45% between 2022 and 2026. And an independent study showed the global cybersecurity workforce needs to grow by 65% to meet the rising need to prevent and fight against data attacks.
Why software development and coding?
Salesforce and its related economic ecosystem are estimated to add 9 million new jobs by 2026 and account for $1.6 trillion of new revenue.
Who is the Appalachian Digital Training Center for?
The experts designing the Appalachian Digital Training Center have Eastern Kentucky residents’ needs front of mind.
The Center is excited to welcome students from many different backgrounds, including:
- Eastern Kentuckians left unemployed or underemployed by the coal industry.
- Career changers with technical backgrounds who need to upskill or reskill.
- Local students interested in pursuing cutting-edge careers.
- Residents who want to gain relevant skills for agritech jobs or remote work opportunities.
What are the goals of the Appalachian Digital Training Center?
The Appalachian Digital Training Center aims to increase regional workforce participation and support growth opportunities for the Eastern Kentucky economy. The Center will also carry out KY PATH’s objective to achieve 100% digital equity within our communities.
Goal #1: Prepare our residents for agritech careers.
KY PATH program leaders are collaborating across government and industry to position Eastern Kentucky as a global agritech hub. While this will inevitably lead to new residents coming in, we must ensure our long-term residents can access and benefit from as many of these new jobs as possible.
Goal #2: Contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Eastern Kentucky economy.
As we welcome a new industry to our region, we also want to diversify our workforce opportunities. That’s why the Appalachian Digital Training Center will support career training for other industries, particularly tech companies that will continue hiring remote workers well into the future.
Goal #3: Achieve digital equity for Eastern Kentucky.
Digital equity is a guiding principle of KY PATH, and program leadership acknowledges the critical need to bridge the digital divide. The Appalachian Digital Training Center will address digital equity by providing free training to residents motivated to pursue high-tech careers but lack the experience to access them right now.
Conclusion: How to get involved with the Appalachian Digital Training Center
As the global economy continues shifting towards tech-enabled industries, this is your chance to do your part and help align Eastern Kentucky in the right direction. Read on for your next steps.
Local and county governments: Now is the time to prepare our communities for economic transformation. Invest in broadband, tourism, downtown revitalization, and other amenities to help make Eastern Kentucky a great place to live, work, and play. Once the Appalachian Digital Training Center launches, help residents become aware of their opportunities and encourage them to participate.
Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs: Our regional economy will continue growing and changing. As you prepare to launch and expand your businesses, consider the role you can play in a richly diverse economy.
Residents: Keep an eye out for the Appalachian Digital Training Center launch. Stay informed about the career options coming your way. Once the Center begins accepting students, sign up for training to improve your career opportunities and earn gainful employment right here at home.