The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation is deploying $6 million in federal funding to create 5,300 new tech industry apprenticeships. During a virtual event Monday, President Dan Mehan calls the investment a game-changer.
“There is an apprenticeship revolution going on in Missouri,” he says. “Over the last two years, our state ranks second in the number of completed apprenticeships – second only behind California.”
More than 10,000 Missourians have gone through an apprenticeship program that gives them real-world and traditional learning through a paid work experience. The effort is meant to give participants a feel for whether they would like to make a living in the profession.
According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, about 94% of apprentices are retained by their employers after they complete their apprenticeships and the average annual salary is not too shabby – about $70,000. The Chamber says the pay leads to a $300,000 lifetime earning advantage over non-apprentices.
Mehan says the state is “poised for strong growth” in apprenticeships thanks to a number of developments this year.
Mehan says House Bill 2046, passed this year by the Missouri Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson, will boost the state’s apprenticeship efforts. The plan, sponsored by Rep. Derek Grier, R-Chesterfield, gives students industry credentials after they finish their program.
“This progress could not have come at a better time,” says Mehan. “We all know our state faces many challenges as we continue to confront COVID-19 and seek to grow our economy out of it. One of our biggest challenges will be training workers who find themselves unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic. Apprenticeships will be a very important tool as we work to help get these workers back on the job and likewise ensure that Missouri employers have the talent they need to grow and power our economy.”
Another development Mehan points to is Missouri Apprentice Connect – the first in the nation apprenticeship matching program. The free service can be found by going to MoApprenticeConnect.com
Dr. Mardy Leathers, director of the Missouri Office of Workforce Development, says there is a wide variety of businesses contributing to the state’s apprenticeship success.
“In Missouri, it would be easy if I could rattle off the names of a couple of employers. But the reality is, there are 493 employers who have apprenticeship programs in the state. So, we have a lot of employers who engage,” says Leathers. “It’s actually a great thing that I can’t rattle those names off because we have so many.”
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, helped to secure the federal grant. Blunt chairs a subcommittee that funds U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and others.
“Nobody has taken better advantage of this than Missouri has,” says Blunt. “We’ve got a new Office of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning that has been set up in the Department of Higher Education. I think what these apprenticeship programs do and what our state, what you’ve done, and what Governor Parson has done and others have done, is realize we have to look at the workplace a little differently.”
Cerner Corporation – a global healthcare technology company in Kansas City – was the lead partner in bringing the federal grant to Missouri.
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