Mo. House Seeks to Help Businesses with Job Training

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JEFFERSON CITY - A proposed Missouri House bill would require the Department of Economic Development to establish the Missouri Works Training Program to assist qualified companies with the training of employees.

According to the department, it received approximately $50 million in requests for job training by the business community last year, and $9.5 million was budgeted from general revenue. That means the state funded 19 percent of requests filed.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, said Missouri has increased needs for workers in the area of bioscience, technology and heath care. Lauer said this bill would help fulfill these needs.

"This bill gears to individual employees and to help them get their skills and become better workers. So we can have both a higher skilled work force and help grow our small businesses," Lauer said.

Travis Adair, data center solutions manager for Missouri technology company ISG Technology, Inc., said ISG is desperately in need of qualified computer science engineers.

"We have open positions that we have been trying to fill for the last 18 to 24 months. To find qualified technical people in the Columbia area is a challenge," Adair said.

ISG Technology Inc. has offices in Columbia, as well as Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield, and all of these offices have job openings. Adair said the company spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in training, and to receive state funding for training would be very helpful.

The Missouri legislature has proposed job training programs before. Last year, both the Missouri House and Senate introduced similar bills. But neither moved the bills across the finish line.

Tracy King, vice president of governmental affairs of the Missouri Chamber, said the legislature debated a great deal on the tax credits last year, and would not let any new incentive pass until it reached agreement with tax credit reform.

"The demand to establish the program has increased, and this year this bill may have a better chance to move forward," King said.

Rep. Michele Kratky, D-St. Louis, called the bill "fantastic," and said it is not a bill that would have issues across party lines.

"It is so beneficial for the state of Missouri. It will train our people who pay taxes here in Missouri, and make them more educated and help them find jobs, " Kratky said.

The House Economic Development Committee is reviewing the bill. It will move to the house for debate if passed.