- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Education and Workforce Development Cabinet is pulling its employees out of 31 unemployment centers across Kentucky in an effort to save money.

Workers with the Office of Employment and Training throughout the state received notice about the changes Tuesday, according to local news reports. The OET will be consolidated from 51 Kentucky Career Centers into 12 hubs in Bowling Green, Covington, Elizabethtown, Hazard, Hopkinsville, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead, Owensboro, Paducah, Prestonburg and Somerset, as well as eight existing satellite offices.

Kentucky Career Centers offer employment services and assistance with unemployment benefits. OET employees train job seekers and help businesses find qualified candidates to fill positions.

The 95 OET employees affected by the reorganization will get a chance to transfer to other positions within the Cabinet.

Cabinet spokeswoman Kim Brannock said the 31 affected unemployment offices - including locations in Richmond, Danville, Winchester, Georgetown and Frankfort - won’t be closing entirely, but will be supported by “community partners.” Services will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

“What we’re hoping to do is make our staff more mobile, but also use technology to serve our customers anywhere they are,” Brannock said.

When asked by the Lexington Herald-Leader (https://bit.ly/2iblEDl) how the changes may affect an unemployed Kentuckian in the next few days, Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner said he wasn’t sure.

“We’ll know more about that within six weeks, depending on where that person lives,” Heiner said.

The Cabinet has cited a lack of federal funding for the changes. The OET faced a $4.6 million deficit in 2016, even after attempting to supplement its funds with more federal grants, according to internal OET emails obtained by the newspaper.

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