Today’s economy is changing rapidly. The need to compete on a global scale is raising the bar for all workers. Rep. Travis Fitzwater, a Republican from Holts Summit, is championing legislation to make sure Missouri workers can meet these new standards. His legislation, House Bill 680, will provide adult Missourians without a high school diploma the new opportunity to earn one. The bill calls for the construction of four adult high schools around the state.
The Missouri Chamber testified in support of the legislation during a Senate committee hearing this week. Rep. Fitzwater has cited workforce initiatives within the Missouri Chamber’s strategic plan, Missouri 2030, as a driving force behind his bill.
“This is an issue impacting every district in the state,” said Fitzwater. “The Missouri Chamber’s 2030 Plan calls for workforce development. I think that is something Missouri needs to be a leader in, and we are taking a common sense approach to it.”
The vast number of adult Missourians without a high school diploma is a manpower resource waiting to be tapped.
“Basically, what we have is 500,000 adults who do not have a high school diploma,” said Fitzwater. “A GED just doesn’t cut it for employers. What we want to do is provide a high school diploma, which looks so much better on a resume.”
It is a business issue, but is also the right thing to do, according to Rep. Fitzwater. Rep. Fitzwater points out that among the 500,000 diploma-less Missourians, 350,000 are on public assistance programs.
Adult students have different needs than teenagers. The bill would accommodate working adults by providing child care. The legislation also promotes skills certification and training, driven by the needs of local businesses.
House Bill 680 was passed with bipartisan support in the Missouri House. A Senate committee has approved the bill and it now awaits debate by the full Senate.