Missouri Business Headlines

Lawmakers stay focused on workforce

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The Missouri General Assembly continued its focus on improving the state’s workforce this week as several important proposals made progress.

On Feb. 28, the Missouri House of Representatives approved an innovative bill to help upskill the more than 2.6 million Missouri adults who lack a postsecondary degree.

The ability to access a skilled workforce remains a top concern for employers across Missouri. Only 44 percent of the state’s employers are satisfied with the availability of skilled employees, according to the Missouri 2030 Gallup survey.

To address this problem, the Missouri House has passed legislation that would create a grant program to fund the postsecondary education of eligible nontraditional college students. The idea, called the Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant, was proposed by Gov. Mike Parson and is being carried in the House by Rep. Kathy Swan, a Republican from Cape Girardeau.

The legislation aligns with a recommended action item in the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Workforce2030 Report released last year. According to the report, written by a nationally recognized economist, “upskilling efforts targeted at these adults could have a significant impact on the quantity and quality of our state’s workforce.”

“Workforce has become a critically important economic development tool. We need to do everything we can to ensure Missourians are ready for the job opportunities of today and tomorrow. With today’s tight labor markets, we can’t afford to squander a single worker. We need every worker to maximize their potential,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber. “The Fast Track legislation is rightly named because it has the potential to spur swift progress toward upskilling our workforce. We’d like to thank Gov. Mike Parson for championing this idea, and Rep. Kathy Swan and the House leadership for seeing it through passage. We will continue to work to build support for this proposal in the Senate.”

Additional workforce progress this week includes:

House supports One Start proposal: In a first-round vote, the Missouri House has backed House Bill 469, a bill to simplify the state’s workforce training incentives into one easy system that’s friendly to job creators. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Derek Grier, a Republican from Chesterfield.

Teacher externships bill perfected: The Missouri House members also gave first-round approval to a bill that would create a new tax incentive to offer teacher externships. House Bill 462 is sponsored by Rep. Brenda Shields, a Republican from St. Joseph.

Apprenticeships legislation heard: Senate Bill 318, by Sen. Eric Burlison, a Republican from Republic, enables an applicant with an 8th grade education or higher who has completed a federally approved apprenticeship program and passed any necessary examination to obtain an industry license. Read the full story.

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