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WKCTC Named Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Training
Kentucky Ag Connection - 07/22/2021

West Kentucky Community and Technical College has been designated a 2021 Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education (CoE) by U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD), college officials announced today.

The Center for Excellence designation has been one of the Paducah Chamber of Commerce's top federal priorities since 2019.

"I am happy to share that WKCTC has been designated as a 2021Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education," said WKCTC President Anton Reece. "It has been a four-plus year process, but we have made it to home base."

WKCTC was one of 27 community colleges and training institutions receiving the CoE designation - the first in the nation to receive the 2021 honor from the Maritime Administration. The designation recognizes community colleges and training institutions that prepare students for careers in the nation's maritime industry. These academic institutions are located in sixteen states and one U.S. territory.

"This designation validates the quality and rigor of our academic program, as well as the wide variety and value of our workforce training offerings, many of which are United States Coast Guard approved," said Kevin O'Neill, WKCTC's vice president of regional workforce training and economic development.

MARAD may now start working with the designated institutions to enter into cooperative agreements to help advance recruitment of students and faculty, enhance facilities, award student credit for military service, and potentially receive assistance in the form of surplus equipment or temporary use of MARAD vessels.

"Our collaboration with these institutions represents an important expansion of MARAD's role in supporting maritime education and will help form pathways to good-paying American jobs in our nation's maritime industry," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Authorized under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, the CoE program is designed to assist the maritime industry in gaining and sustaining a well-trained labor force while enhancing diversity and inclusion in the industry.

"The CoE designations recognize the high standard of maritime education and training provided by the designated community and technical colleges and maritime training centers. These institutions play vital roles in our nation's maritime industry by providing the training and skills students need to begin and advance careers afloat and ashore," said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley.

Information regarding the CoE program and the application process was disseminated through Federal Register notices. Successful applicants include accredited community colleges, technical colleges, and maritime training centers under State supervision. A searchable, interactive map is available to provide information on each CoE designee.

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