House begins discussion on Fast Track extension
With Missouri employers confronting a growing talent shortage, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is arguing that now is not the time to let an innovative workforce training program expire.
On February 10, a Missouri House committee heard testimony on a bill that would keep Missouri’s Fast Track program going. Championed by the Missouri Chamber and passed into law in 2019, this financial aid program addresses workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue a certificate, degree, or industry-recognized credential in a job field designated as high need.
Rep. Travis Fitzwater, a Republican from Holts Summit, is sponsoring House Bill 2203 to keep Fast Track going, and expand access by allowing the program to be used for apprenticeships as well. Legislation is urgently needed as Fast Track is set to expire this year.
Fast Track fully covers tuition and fees when combined with other federal and state financial aid. Individuals who are 25 or older or those who have not been enrolled in any school within the last two years and who meet certain income requirements are eligible for Fast Track.
Citing the need for the state to continue to bolster workforce development efforts, the Missouri Chamber testified in support of Rep. Fitzwater’s bill.
According to a recent Missouri Chamber poll, more than half of business leaders say talent is the top issue impacting their profitability. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of Missouri employers say workforce is either the first or second biggest thing impacting their growth. Both of these numbers are large increases over previous years, indicating the workforce shortage is becoming more severe.
In addition to Fitzwater’s bill, a Senate Committee has passed legislation to extend Fast Track.
Extending and expanding the Fast Track program is just one component of the Missouri Chamber’s legislative plan to bolster workforce efforts in the state.
The Missouri Chamber is also supporting several additional bills related to workforce, including legislation to:
- Upskill existing Missouri workers
- Help students create career plans
- Give students school credit for participating in on-the-job opportunities
- Reform unemployment benefits
- Expand access to high school diplomas
- Encourage incarcerated Missourians to prepare for work
For more information, contact Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches at email@example.com or 573-634-3511.
Employers can help spread the word about this grant opportunity and encourage Missourians to continue their education for obtaining needed skills for high-demand jobs! Learn how you can take a few simple steps to help promote Fast Track.