In February, the Missouri House passed legislation that provides an important tool to help build and retain a skilled workforce. This week, a Senate committee heard testimony on that bill.
The Senate General Laws Committee heard testimony on HB 417, sponsored by Rep. Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre). It would create a short-term upskill credentialing program. This is a grant program that would reimburse employers who help their employees earn short-term upskilling credentials in vital areas for Missouri’s economy.
“I’m hearing from businesses all over my area how this would help them find workers they need,” Henderson said. “They can find a worker who can fit in their workplace culture, but they lack the skills needed to do the job.”
Henderson said some examples of short-term credentials that could likely be eligible in this program include manufacturing technology, cybersecurity, blueprint reading, medical assistants, pharmacy technician and medical records coding.
“The employee gets higher wages, and the employer gets upskill credentials,” Henderson told the committee. “We look at the economic distress of a qualifying employer’s region, so if we have a region that’s really struggling, we’re going to try and work with them first.”
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a strong supporter of this legislation, deeming it critical in supporting Missouri in the global competition for jobs and talent.
Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches said, “Workforce is a top issue that businesses are concerned about. It affects their profitability and their ability to grow and retain jobs. This program is modeled after Ohio’s Tech Cred Program, which has been wildly successful.
“We know we don’t have millions of new residents moving into Missouri every year, so we need to make the most of who we have right now,” Corches continued. “When businesses invest in the professional development of their employees, they are far more likely to stay at that business. When you’re talking about workforce, employers are willing to do whatever it takes to build and retain jobs.”
Joining the Missouri Chamber in support of HB 417 was Columbia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Matt McCormick.
“Through talking with our 1,000 members who represent over 50,000 employees, this is the No. 1 issue they’re dealing with. We found those companies that have reinvested in upskilling their employees are seeing higher profits and a positive work environment,” McCormick said.
The Missouri Chamber is also supporting a companion bill, SB 53, sponsored by Sen. Karla Eslinger (R-Wasola).
For more information, contact Corches at email@example.com or call (573) 634-3511.