Missouri Chamber report highlights statewide skills gap, outlines solutions

3 months 4 weeks 2 days ago Wednesday, May 23 2018 May 23, 2018 Wednesday, May 23, 2018 5:41:00 PM CDT May 23, 2018 in News
By: Monica Madden, KOMU 8 Reporter
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JEFFERSON CITY - A new report by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce identifies challenges in the Missouri workforce. 

The report, WorkForce2030, launched Monday as a way to address some of those issues and make Missouri more economically competitive. Some of those challenges listed were stagnant workforce growth, a widening skills gap and job preparedness. 

WorkForce2030 lists a detailed action plan for how to address these problems. The goal is to improve the weaknesses by 2030.

The chamber hired Gallup to survey more than 1,000 employers in Missouri to help understand what the workforce climate is like. Here were some of the results:

  • 44% of employers reported satisfaction with the state's availability of skilled workers.
  • 30% agree that Missouri attracts or can retain top talent.
  • 15% agree that high schools are preparing students for the workforce.

The skills gap came up multiple times in the report. 

"Employers are having a hard time filling open positions and it's across the board, not just in entry-level jobs," said Steve Smith, president of Job Point, an employment center in Columbia.

The study says the skill gap exists on several fronts. Soft skills, basic knowledge and technology skills are three areas employers said were often lacking. 

"We have a lot of employers calling us and just saying if you have people who will show up on time each day and work well with other, we'll train them," Smith said. 

Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber, said that the skills gap is a problem that needs to be addressed.

"If our future workforce aren't ready for the jobs of today, that employer will look for other places to locate," Mehan said. "That leaves less opportunities for all Missourians."

The action steps for improving worker skills were mostly centered around targeting youth and starting with educational programs.

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