LEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, June 26, 2020) – Through collaboration with employers and educational entities, a new horse care apprenticeship program has recently been registered with the Kentucky and United States Departments of Labor. This opportunity, aimed at providing “earn and learn” training in horsemanship, is an Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program for individuals interested in working in the horse industry. Given the recent suspension of H-2B visas in the United States, an avenue which has historically been critical to Kentucky’s equine industry workforce, the creation of this apprenticeship program cannot come at a more opportune time to continue to train a domestic workforce.

The Horse Trainer (Horseman) Apprenticeship (O*Net-Soc Code: 39-2011.00  Rapids Code: 1001) encompasses 2,000 hours of carefully employer structured competencies during which an apprentice can attain industry-recognized skills needed to successfully begin or continue a career in any horse related industry sub-sector, such as: racing, breeding, showing, and other similar disciplines.

While on the job, apprentices will learn or improve their skills in areas such as: horse handling, feeding and nutrition, proper grooming and exercise, identification of disease or illness, basic health care and medical treatments and facility care and maintenance. This program was created to produce a well-rounded, competent horseman capable of excelling in any facet of the equine industry.

Advantages for apprentices include:

  • Earn while you learn at your own pace
  • Learn the skills horse industry employers have shown they are seeking
  • Advancement within the industry promoting an increased future earning potential
  • Faster access to state mandated occupational licensing

Advantages for employers include:

  • Customized training
  • A skilled workforce educated by industry experts
  • Improved productivity and lower turnover

This new apprenticeship is the result of collaboration between the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce/Kentucky Equine Education Project’s Equine Talent Pipeline Workforce Initiative, the Bluegrass Community and Technical College Workforce Solutions / North American Racing Academy and equine employers across the industry.

Additionally, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) will be able to provide valuable assistance through its newly launched apprenticeship support program developed specifically to help employers manage their apprenticeships. The services BCTC and KCTCS will assist employers with include:

  • Recruitment
  • Mentorship/Coaching
  • Administrative Services: Federal registration, Employer Acceptance Agreements
  • Compliance / Record-Keeping: Ensuring that apprentices are completing on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
  • Evaluating ROI and employer’s satisfaction with their workforce pipeline.

Apprenticeships have been utilized in various industries across the United States for decades, providing education and training within the setting that knows best, the workplace. The introduction of the Horseman apprenticeship elevates the Kentucky equine industry to a higher tier, allowing any individual the opportunity for world-class hands-on learning.

“Adding a nationally recognized apprenticeship for aspiring horsemen and horsewomen to our industry’s workforce recruitment and training toolbox will help immeasurably. This program helps us make working with horses more accessible to more potential workers and breaks down many of the barriers to entry which often exist” notes Remi Bellocq, Executive Director, North American Racing Academy at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

“The horse industry has been hungry for a way to bring all the players together to reach, and train, a broader audience of new horseman. The creation of the Horseman apprenticeship in Kentucky, the Horse Capitol of the World, is the perfect solution” states Laurie Mays, Equine Talent Pipeline Project Manager with KEEP and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “Both apprentices and employers can expect great things from this program.”

For employers or potential apprentices seeking more information, please contact either Laurie Mays (lmays@kychamber.com) or Gary Robinson (gary.robinson@kctcs.edu).

The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP was the driving force in the establishment of the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund, which has paid out more than $177 million to Kentucky breeders since its inception in 2006, and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, which has been responsible for more than $40 million to purses and more than $24 million to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit www.horseswork.com.

Launched in January 2017, and the first in the nation, the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center is the centerpiece of the efforts that grew out of the Chamber’s initial report on the state’s workforce challenges to meet the needs of business.

Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) has seven campuses that are within a 30-minute drive of 95% of Central Kentuckians. The college enrolls over 14,000 students annually and provides training for business partners through Workforce Solutions to more than 2,000 employees. BCTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Originally launched by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, NARA is now part of BCTC and remains a highly successful career and training program offering one-year certificates and two-year associates degrees in support of the horse racing and breeding industries.