ACTC launches Education First Employers program to link local businesses with trained workforce | ACTC

ACTC launches Education First Employers program to link local businesses with trained workforce

Partnership aligns employers with ACTC to close the workforce skills gap by prioritizing education and training in Ashland Community

August 24, 2023

Ashland Community and Technical College (ACTC) is proud to partner with Ashland and the surrounding communities leading companies to strengthen our area’s workforce while improving access to higher earning potential. Businesses in Kentucky’s key sectors including Healthcare, Manufacturing, Skilled Trades, and many others that are committed to attainable education and investing in their workforce will now hold the title Education First Employer.


Companies that qualify to participate in this program share similar values and have shown a commitment to go above and beyond to support employees through education and training. 


To achieve the Education First Employer designation, businesses must provide tuition assistance, flexible scheduling, and offer competitive wages. These businesses must also actively partner with ACTC to enhance students’ employability skills and better position graduates for high earning potential in today’s economy.


“Kentucky is welcoming historic economic investments that are creating thousands of great new jobs. At the same time, we’re also seeing rising wages and record low unemployment,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The Education First Employers initiative will make sure this rising prosperity reaches every Kentuckian where they live. It will also help us keep our promise to provide the best workforce for the increasing number of employers choosing our state to do business.”


The majority of students leaving higher education are making an impossible choice, forced to put their finances and work schedule before their pursuit of a better life. Education First Employers are working with ACTC to reverse this troubling trend. 


“ACTC is committed to partnering with local companies, increasing the skill level of our workforce and bettering the lives of our learners,” said Dr. Larry Ferguson, ACTC President & CEO.  “As labor participation rates remain below pre-pandemic levels, this alliance offers a solution through increased access to attainable education. In turn, we aim to increase program completion rates, the skill level of our workforce and the standard of living in our communities.”


ACTC now looks to expand the initiative, inviting companies who are investing in workforce development to sign the Education First Employer commitment. A full listing of current participating companies can be found at 


Businesses interested in pursuing the Education First Employer distinction can visit or contact Kelly Heckman at with the KCTCS Workforce and Economic Development Office to learn more.