MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) - Dozens of people met in Manchester Tuesday to discuss ways to help students prepare for a future, diversified economy.
The SOAR listening session focused on education and retraining, one of several designed to make Eastern Kentucky a place where education pays.
The session took place at Eastern Kentucky University's Manchester Campus.
People shared their ideas to bolster education in the mountains, from early childhood education, to math and science tutoring, to improved scholarship opportunities for college students.
"One of the hurdles I think is we tend to default to what we know, and think the way we've always thought," said Jeff Whitehead, who chairs the Education and Retraining Work Group.
Another hurdle, says EKU assistant professor Jason Marion, is so-called 'brain drain' - students from Eastern Kentucky putting their educations to work somewhere else.
"If they don't come back, then we're not going to be able to develop a knowledge-based economy in Eastern Kentucky, and we're going to continue battling with the same problems we've been battling with," he said.
Organizers say this session and others like it will help them develop ways to make education work for Eastern Kentucky.
"How do we work in education and retraining in a way that's connected to economic development?" said Whitehead. "How do we make those things connect?"
Through these sessions, organizers are hopeful Eastern Kentucky will be better prepared to meet the workforce demands of tomorrow.
The next education and retraining listening session will take place Thursday at 6 p.m. at Harlan County High School.
For more information on that and other upcoming SOAR events, visit www.soar-ky.org.