November 2, 2022 3 min read

Vibrant exchange of ideas at Workforce2030 Conference

Over 200 business leaders from across Missouri learned ways to thrive and have a vibrant workforce, now and into the year 2030, during a recent conference sponsored by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The fourth annual Workforce2030 Conference had representatives from education, scientific and technical services, health care, manufacturing and construction fields taking part in the two-day event.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson gave the opening address, and his message to attendees was to find out what the priorities were for their communities and stay focused on them. Since he’s been in office, Parson said there are two areas he has been focused on – infrastructure and workforce development.

“Those aren’t political issues. Those are just good things for everyday Missourians. No matter if you are in business or you’re dealing with issues for families, those two issues have an impact on the future of our state,” Parson said.

Parson noted that to make communities successful, leaders need to master how to manage infrastructure and workforce development.

“To address workforce issues, you have to start with childhood development and health care, because those touch everybody,” Parson said. “You have to keep people healthy to go to work, and to have people stay and work, you have to put child care in place.”

As far as infrastructure, Parson said, “If you don’t have broadband in place, where are you going? You’ve got to have broadband for people to work.”

In one week last month, Parson said, more than 600 new jobs were announced to be coming to Missouri, and he credits the efforts made on workforce and infrastructure in the last four years as having an impact on getting those jobs here.

Among those presenting at the conference was Doris Rogers, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Saint Luke’s Health System. She found that people who attended were excited to talk to others going through the same things they were and finding solutions to various problems.

“If there’s one thing I hope they take away from this event, it’s that diversity, equity and inclusion is critical if you want an organization of highly competent employees and you want to attract and retain them,” Rogers said.

To retain employees, Rogers said Saint Luke’s makes sure they are “seen and heard” by telling them about Saint Luke’s mission, vision and values.

“We really make sure that our employees see themselves reflected in our environment,” Rogers said.

Employers need to re-think their hiring practices in this tight labor market, according to Nicholas Wyman, CEO of the Institute for Workforce Skills and Innovation. He told those at the conference a great way to do that is an apprenticeship program.

“People can now re-think their career options and find out what they’re interested in,” Wyman said. “You don’t have to think a successful and rewarding career is found only by going to college.”

The earn and learn opportunity offered through apprenticeship programs is a win for the employer and the future employee, Wyman said.

“The White House put out figures a few years back, that for every dollar invested in apprenticeship, the employer gets back $1.47 return,” Wyman said. “The apprentice gets paid while they are learning, so that benefits morale and retention. This is a time for employers to double down and invest in their workforce and their skills.”

Missouri is a national leader in how to deal with the economic development issues we currently have, according to Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership, who discussed a 50-state report on what state chambers of commerce are doing to address these.

“We found that some chambers were doing anywhere from full-blown, multi-million-dollar programs to those who weren’t doing anything,” Abernathy said. “Missouri is in the top third of chambers, and that is because they are doing programs, lobbying, and they put together a state plan which makes them a leader in the country in workforce development.”

Planning has already begun for next year’s Workforce2030 Conference which will be held Oct. 17-18 in St. Charles. For more information on that, contact Ashley Schwab, Director of Conference Development for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at aschwab@mochamber.com.


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