Charles Vanhoose, an instructor of electricity on the Mayo campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College, said students seeking to be retrained through the Accelerating Opportunity Kentucky program are eager to learn and reenter the workforce.

The daunting task of being retrained for a new career is made more difficult when it involves returning to school decades later.

A new program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College aims to put students on the fast track back to employment.

Accelerating Opportunity Kentucky (AOKY) is an educational and workforce initiative that combines basic education (math, reading and writing) with technical training simultaneously to prepare students for high-demand jobs or to continue on with their educational studies.

In partnership with Kentucky Adult Education and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, AOKY seeks to change the way adult education is delivered by putting students on track to earn a postsecondary credential and earn family-sustaining wages.

Most of the students who have taken advantage of AOKY at Big Sandy Community and Technical College are laid off coal miners and those who worked in supporting industries. Most of the students have enrolled in the Industrial Maintenance track at BSCTC, one of four pathways offered by the college.

Our AOKY students understand the need to be retrained, said Charles Vanhoose, an instructor of electricity on BSCTCs Mayo campus. They understand the likelihood that the jobs they have done, some for many years, may never come back. These are admirable people who want to provide for their families.

Providing an accelerated platform to a credential appeals to students.

They want to learn, but they also want to go to work, said Vanhoose. This provides a great platform that can lead to many opportunities.
Another advantage to AOKY is a comprehensive career services approach that includes assistance with resume development, job searching and access to a success coach.

Stephen Music, an instructor of industrial maintenance at BSCTCs Mayo campus, said students in his program are eager to learn and benefit from having years of work experience.

The work ethic is there immediately, he said. They have a great desire to learn, and in some cases, they have had to learn new skills on the job. It is great to watch these students use that to their advantage in the classroom.

In addition to the Industrial Maintenance and Allied Health tracks, BSCTC will offer three other pathways for AOKY students in the fall semester. They are: Computer Information Technology, Electricity and Welding.

To learn more about the AOKY program at BSCTC, contact James Chafin at (606) 788-2845 or email