Building Kentucky’s Future Workforce: KY FAME to expand its apprentice-style training program statewide


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. The Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) is expanding into a statewide organization, Gov. Steve Beshear announced.

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 apprentice-style education and training program designed to create a highly skilled workforce.

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,” Beshear said.

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 state.

To facilitate the statewide expansion of the program, a KY FAME statewide board of directors has been created. The board will work with communities and other companies to develop KY FAME chapters and programming throughout Kentucky. Board members include:

· Kim Menke, Toyota (Georgetown)
· Terry McMichael, 3M (Cynthiana)
· Tom Hudson, nth/works(Louisville)
· Mike Hirsch, ZF Steering (Florence)
· Kurt Krug, INOAC (Springfield/Bardstown)
· Peter Feil, Stober Drives (Maysville)
· TBD, Kellogg (Pikeville)
· Donnie Slagle, Toyotetsu (Somerset)
· Gregory Head, Kobe Aluminum (Bowling Green)
· Mary Beth Hudson, Wacker Chemical (Calvert City)
· Farrah Corbett, Premium Allied Tool (Owensboro)
· Erik Dunnigan, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development
· Greg Higdon, Kentucky Association of Manufacturers
· Dianne Leveridge, Kentucky Community and Technical College System

“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 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.”

“Workforce development is one of the top issues facing Kentucky manufacturers,” said Greg Higdon, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers. “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

© 2016 Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education