A highly skilled and available workforce is the engine that drives Kentucky’s economy.
With eight public universities, 18 private colleges and universities, 16 community and technical colleges and 56 community and technical college branches, the commonwealth is churning out a new generation of skilled workers each year. And Madisonville Community College (MCC) is a great example of that success.
MCC offers everything from an eight-week certificate to a two-year degree, and the stories of several women in the region highlight the many opportunities available to Kentucky’s skilled workforce.
Sara Lloyd, of Madisonville, did just that and is now the first female graduate of MCC’s linemen training program. The lineman training program is an intensive eight-week course offered through the college’s Workforce Solutions Department. Lloyd attended class five days a week for training in safety, basic rigging and lifting, bucket truck operation, CDL and digger/derrick operation.
She worked nights for a local industry while completing the program during the day. As a single mother, she worked hard to manage her education, her work and other responsibilities to achieve her goal.
While enrolled in the program, Lloyd was a standout among her peers and exhibited leadership skills that led to an assignment to serve as one of the two crew foremen for the class. Upon completion of the program, she was hired immediately by Groves Construction.
“I knew Sara would be successful from day one,” said Mike Davenport, director of Workforce Solutions. “Her willingness to learn and her strong work ethic are a good fit for the academic and physical demands of the lineman program.”
But Lloyd isn’t the only recent success story to come out of MCC.
Ahlstrom-Munksjo has partnered with MCC to assist with hiring employees at their new glass fiber plant in Madisonville, and Britney Mitchell traveled to Finland to complete two ACT Job Profiles for the program. Over a 10-day period, Mitchell met with subject matter experts at the Ahlstrom-Munksjo plant to develop task lists and define the skills needed to be successful in the job for two positions using the WorkKeys profiling method.
The WorkKeys profiling method brings the specifics of a job, a curriculum or an occupation into focus and the clients (such as employers, educational institutions and workforce development agencies) are able to use this information for a number of purposes including, but not limited to, the development of employee selection procedures and the identification of entry requirements into technical or other training programs.
The lineman and workforce ready programs are not the only opportunities producing extremely skilled women.
Aviation is a booming industry in Kentucky and MCC has worked to ensure they are the provider of choice for flight training in Western Kentucky. Kentucky’s lone rotor program is located at the college and Chief Helicopter Instructor Katie Lilly brings a wealth of experience and an exceptionally high level of skill to her teaching. However, she didn't always know that aviation would be her passion or career. It wasn’t until she flew in a small plane with a local crop-dusting pilot one summer that sparked her interest in aviation.
After graduating high school, she joined the United States Army and spent her first three years as a Blackhawk helicopter mechanic and crew chief in Hawaii. During her first deployment in Afghanistan, she gained knowledge about helicopter flight dynamics, troubleshooting and maintenance problem-solving. This experience spiked her interest to learn to fly, which resulted in new roles in Germany and Fort Campbell. Each duty station led to another deployment to Afghanistan, which resulted in a lot of flight time and experiences that are unparalleled.
After her time with the army, she worked as a Nashville Police Officer helicopter pilot for six years. When an opportunity arose for a helicopter instructor position at MCC, she made the decision to transition into the role of an educator. She now shares her more than 15-year journey in aviation with those just beginning theirs.
“Madisonville Community College has really allowed me to grow as a pilot and as an instructor,” Lilly said. “The culture of the school and, more specifically, the aviation program, is something you won’t find in many other places. It is a job like no other. No day is the same and each flight brings new challenges and rewards. There is no limit to what you can do, what aircraft you can fly, and the places you can travel to as a helicopter pilot.”
Katie is a testament to the progress and potential of women in the workforce, and an example for other female MCC students.
“Katie embodies the spirit of innovation, courage and excellence that MCC stands for,” said Dr. Cindy Kelley, MCC President. “Her story is an inspiration for our students, showing them that with hard work and determination, there's no limit to what you can achieve.”
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