Density of the Thoroughbred racing industry in Kentucky is immense and is concentrated in the central part of the state. Working with the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) allowed us to get a quick glimpse of the shared pain points of the industry that plague many farms. Using KEEP’s membership list and working outwards a collaborative group was formed of 22 employers originally. Working through the TPM process the employers centered on two critical positions: grooms and night watch. Once data was collected through the demand planning process it was obvious, with 566 total positions needed, that the groom position should be the first line of action.
Communication within the collaborative allowed employers to understand that they were not always talking the same language, although they were seeking the same type of skills of grooms. Once a complete set of skills had been determined and evaluated, the group began looking at past hiring strategies. Because the equine industry is based heavily on relationships and word of mouth information transfer, it was not surprising that the Talent Flow Analysis exercise revealed that there was not a solidified pipeline established. In addition, a priority of the industry has recently been to engage young adults and those new to the industry, to educate and inspire them to be a part of the industry. Given this knowledge the group decided to focus on the middle and high school student populations focusing specifically on enhancing industry outreach and education.
Throughout these conversations with the collaborative group it was understood that there was another Thoroughbred group (specifically tackling the financial side of Thoroughbred Farms) who had a vested interest in workforce development for the industry. After convening the two groups for a joint meeting it was decided to merge permanently to tackle the workforce front with 40 farms represented. As a result of merging the two groups it was discovered there was a joint interest in pursuing a partnership with a local agriculture specific public high school with an establish equine program.
Over numerous meetings the expanded collaborative group developed a strategic plan of working with the school in numerous aspects. They jointly agreed to provide financial assistance to the district while also offering worked based learning opportunities, in school engagement with employers, and assistance with curriculum development. In turn, the employers expect to be intricately involved with a population that will be receiving industry specific training based on their recommendations, and the ability to hire students whose educational experience has been designed by them. Once these parameters had been set in place, the employer collaborative group unanimously decided to be represented within the school district agreement by an industry organization, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association. By appointing this entity to represent employer interests the collaboration of employers, educators, and industry was complete.
Currently, the collaborative group is in the beginning phases of implementing their first steps of action with the school district. These include assisting with curriculum development and laying out a feasible plan for work-based learning opportunities for the Fall 2020 semester.
- Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Fayette County School System partner to provide equine opportunities to students
- Locust Trace Promotional Video
- Executive Summary of Locust Trace Equine Program Partnership
- Work-Based Learning Opportunities: Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) Program