EKCEP—the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc.—helps workers and businesses in Eastern Kentucky meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of today's economy.
EKCEP operates the Kentucky Career Center JobSight network of workforce centers, which provide access to more than a dozen state and federal programs that offer employment and training assistance for jobseekers and employers all under one roof.
Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), EKCEP also administers programs that help adults looking for work, workers who have been dislocated from their jobs, and economically disadvantaged young people. WIOA assistance ranges from career counseling and job search assistance to paying for tuition and providing on-the job training opportunities.
For nearly 50 years, EKCEP has served 23 mountain counties in Eastern Kentucky with exemplary training, employment, and workforce development programs to meet the region's changing needs.
Throughout its nearly five decades of service, EKCEP has exhibited extraordinary adaptability, flexibility, proficiency, and perseverance, operating the best programs possible under the prevailing legislation of the time. Periodically, EKCEP has initiated and administered programs to address the fluctuations in Eastern Kentucky's coal industry, retraining dislocated workers during coal's periods of decline and training new workers during growth periods.
The latest such program, Hiring Our Miners Everyday, was funded in 2013 by a National Emergency Grant (NEG) from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. H.O.M.E. helps workers and their spouses affected by the coal industry downturn discover their skills, determine new career options, covers costs for them to enter classroom training, and helps place them into subsidized on the-job training positions with area employers.
EKCEP is headquartered in Hazard, Kentucky, and serves a population of nearly one-half million in 23 counties in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky.
EKCEP and 87 other Concentrated Employment Programs (CEPs) nationwide were formed in 1968 under federal Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) and the Economic Opportunity Act (EOA) to meet the job training needs of people in areas of high unemployment and acute poverty. Every subsequent federal employment and training law has recognized that four of the rural CEPs have shown superior performance and effectiveness, and kept these CEPs in place. The latest federal law to confer this distinction was Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Signed into law in July 2014, WIOA guides the structure and delivery of job training and re-employment programs administered by the nation’s workforce development system—including EKCEP and Kentucky’s nine other Local Workforce Innovation Areas, as well as the commonwealth’s workforce system. In effect, WIOA reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) that has provided funding to states and workforce organizations for jobs programs since signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998.
WIOA makes several changes to WIA, including the streamlining of existing funding streams and the elimination of 15 programs, many of which are considered duplicative or currently not being funded. It also gives states and cities additional flexibility in how they use federal funding for training and re-training programs. The law also adds more accountability on agencies in the workforce system by requiring that a “Job-Driven Checklist” be followed. This checklist includes requirements on close local employer engagement to determine local hiring needs and training-program design; increased use of on-the-job training and apprenticeships; using data and measuring employment and earnings outcomes to drive accountability; streamlining educational progress; and effective workforce partnerships to make the most of limited resources.