Community colleges sign agreement to develop skilled workforce
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's community colleges have established a collaborative network dedicated to expanding workforce training in the state.
Under the Capitol Rotunda Thursday morning, the presidents from each of Missouri's 12 community colleges signed the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network into place.
Through the network, businesses will now have access to resources at every community college in the state. Students looking to learn specialized industry training not offered by their college are able to seek out programs elsewhere.
"One of the programs that we wouldn’t have readily available is specialized welding training, or stainless steel welding training for example," said Jeff Lashley, president of the Moberly Area Community College. "Ozarks Technical College has that training and so, if we have such a need, and need it done quickly, we would work with OTC and figure out a way to get that done."
National Skills Coalition data showed middle-skill level jobs make up 54 percent of Missouri's labor market. However, only 47 percent of Missouri workers are trained to the level.
"It's a statewide collaboration where we're all going to work together. So every program I have is available, and vice versa at every other community college in the state," Lashley said.
State Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, said he noticed other states had more flexibility in job training than Missouri, probably due to the collaboration between local businesses and community colleges.
"It saves company money, and it trains the employee up. To me, it’s not really an investment in the company, it's an investment in the employees, because once they’ve had that job training, wherever they go, they have it," Wasson said.
The Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network did not ask for state government funds to carry out its goals.
"We understand the difficult budget situation facing the state, and with this partnership, we hope to help grow the state's economy in two ways," said Rob Dixon, president of the Missouri Community College Association.
"First, we want to help Missourians learn the skills they need to earn higher pay, and second, we hope to connect Missouri businesses with the workforce they need to grow and create jobs," he said.