Nearly all equine facilities across the Commonwealth note that the growth of their business is contingent upon the availability of employees, which has dropped in recent years. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Foundation, through its Talent Pipeline Management Program, along with the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program, surveyed 350 Kentucky Thoroughbred farms to understand the current industry struggles and devise steps needed to move forward.
Analyzing the survey results helped to identify three main obstacles stifling workforce growth:
Misalignment of equine education and industry needs
Need for advancement regarding workplace culture
Development of industry engagement programs to increase community awareness and involvement
"When it comes to workforce, the equine industry traditionally takes a 'grow your own' approach. However, equine employers are now working together to think, and act, outside the box to educate and employ those from all walks of life," said Laurie Mays, Agriculture and Equine Talent Pipeline Project Manager with the Kentucky Chamber Foundation.
Many entities within the Thoroughbred industry are addressing the growing hurdles by developing and supporting promising programs and initiatives, such as the following:
Attracting and retaining talent through growth of current employees
Develop and support industry engagement programs to encourage community and youth involvement
Strategically target formerly incarcerated and long-term recovery individuals
Encourage upskilling within the industry
Challenge the "normal" business structure of farms
The data collected and analyzed in this report is needed to evaluate the current status of the industry and to watch trends and changes occurring. This data will also be used to make better business decisions concerning Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky and help track the industry's successes.
Through the Talent Pipeline Management® network with the Kentucky Chamber Foundation, Thoroughbred farms have collaborated to discuss and tackle challenges that are facing the equine industry. Over three years, farms have identified the critical positions discussed in this study and the quantity of staff needed in a specific timeframe. They have also developed a definitive list of skills necessary for entry-level, hands-on equine positions and set clear, tangible goals for tackling staff recruitment and retention. With Thoroughbred farms at the forefront of these conversations and efforts, the entire industry is seeing results from working together to address workforce needs.
Read the full report here.