Companies ask budget makers to focus on technical job training
Speaking for the business community in his region, Charlie Glueck was clear about the educational needs in southeast Missouri.
“We need good young people with technical skills,” said Glueck, the president of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Glueck said his Jackson Tire Center is always looking for young employees who have experience working in automotive repair—a field that’s becoming increasingly technical.
“They have to have some sort of background in order to be successful in our business,” he said.
Glueck and other business leaders shared these insights with a Missouri House committee tasked with prioritizing state funds for higher eduction.
Tim Williams says his heating, air conditioning, welding and plumbing business currently has to spend up to $50,000 per year preparing new employees to start working.
“We’re spending a lot of time and a lot of money training employees,” said Williams, vice president and co-owner of Dutch Enterprises in Jackson.
Glueck said that over the years he has observed an broad expansion of higher education opportunities in his area. But he hasn’t seen similar growth in technical education.
“We’re doing good things for our high school students, but where does it go from there?” he asked.
Committee chair Donna Lichtenegger, a Republican from Jackson, said she believes one of the hurdles toward expanding technical education in Missouri is better informing parents about the good careers available in these fields.
“We need parents to know that it’s OK for kids to go into the tech field,” she said.
In 2015, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched a new effort to help showcase technical and manufacturing careers to Missouri students. The program is called Dream It. Do It.
The Missouri Chamber has already helped expand Manufacturing Day in Missouri and is currently facilitating the Show-Me Manufacturing video contest for Missouri students.
These efforts tie into the chamber’s Missouri 2030 strategy for economic growth. Business leaders from across the state are calling for the state’s educational system to do abetter job at preparing students for the workforce.