Missouri continues to lead nation in Registered Apprenticeship efforts

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For the second year in a row, Missouri ranks second in the nation for completed apprenticeships. Missouri saw 3,388 Registered Apprenticeships completed in FY 2020, more than any other state except California. Missouri currently has more than 13,560 active apprenticeships, participating in 489 registered programs.

Through Registered Apprenticeships, workers obtain on-the-job training through a paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a transferable credential, while job creators develop and prepare their future workforce. The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) considers Registered Apprenticeships one of five pathways to career success. In November 2019, Governor Mike Parson established the Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning within the MDHEWD.

“Working to connect employers, providers, and partners, we are building a diverse and skilled workforce in Missouri,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education. “I am proud of our team and the partners involved in helping Missourians level up to meet workforce demands through apprenticeship and work-based learning opportunities.”

The state’s emphasis on apprenticeship is garnering national attention. Missouri Director of Workforce Development Dr. Mardy Leathers was recently named co-chairman of the National Association of State Workforce Agency’s (NASWA) Apprenticeship Workgroup and the Apprenticeship Affinity Group.

The NASWA Apprenticeship Workgroup provides analysis and engages with federal and state leadership as it relates to new apprenticeship law and regulations. The Apprenticeship Affinity Group holds quarterly forums for state apprenticeship directors to share promising practices, discuss successes and challenges, and learn about national initiatives.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be chosen for this position,” Leathers said. “I look forward to leading this group of dedicated workforce development professionals in a nationwide effort to advocate the value of apprenticeship.”

In an effort to build on the state’s success, Missouri officially became a member of the Increasing Apprentice Diversity Innovation Cohort last week.

The Cohort brings states and partners together to hear from experts, expand their networks, and collaborate to create solutions for systemic issues facing states as they work to increase the diversity of apprenticeship participants.

Leadership from MDHEWD will participate in interactive, online meetings with leaders from five different states and Washington D.C., to discuss strategies for recruiting and retaining workers from underrepresented groups who are interested in apprenticeship. The first Innovation Cohort meeting was held on October 7.

“The Increasing Apprentice Diversity Innovation Cohort presents a great opportunity for our department to learn from the efforts and successes of other states and organizations,” said Jeanna Caldwell, manager of the Office of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning. “We are excited to join this cohort as we look to expand the reach of our initiatives to those who may be underrepresented or underserved.” 

MDHEWD will celebrate these accomplishments and continue to discuss strategies to improve apprenticeships in Missouri at this year’s Apprenticeship Missouri Summit on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The free virtual event will bring together businesses, providers, and partners, and will take place during National Apprenticeship Week.

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