Missouri Business Headlines

Tweak to 529 savings plans could boost apprenticeship

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The Missouri MOST 529 education savings plan has long been a vital tool that has helped Missourians save for higher education expenses. A bill being considered by a Missouri Senate committee would add more flexibility to the program — including allowing 529 savings to be used for apprenticeship expenses.

Senate Bill 152 would allow participants to use funds in a 529 plan to repay student loans and to cover costs of an apprenticeship program. The second change could provide an important boost to participation in apprenticeship programs in Missouri.

Missouri is considered a leader in apprenticeships. In 2019, our state ranked second in the nation for new apprenticeships, and currently there are nearly 14,000 apprentices in Missouri.

Last year, the Missouri Chamber Foundation was awarded a $6 million U.S. Dept. of Labor grant to train 5,300 new technology industry apprentices over the next four years. These apprenticeships will address critical needs in computer programming, network support, cybersecurity and other shortage areas.

The state added to that momentum with the launch of Missouri Apprentice Connect, a service the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry developed in partnership with the Missouri Dept. of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

This innovative service helps employers with registered apprenticeship programs find aspiring apprentices. The site also makes it easier for Missourians to take advantage of the outstanding career and skill growth opportunities that apprenticeships provide.

If approved, Senate Bill 152 could further advance apprenticeship in Missouri.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, a Republican from Warrensburg. The Missouri State Treasurer’s Office, which oversees the state’s 529 program, supports the measure.

The Missouri Chamber testified in support of the bill.

“Missouri is leading the way in terms of apprenticeships in the nation. And we believe that coming out of this pandemic, we are going to really need to rely on on-the-job training opportunities like apprenticeships to rebuild our workforce,” said Kara Corches, Director of Legislative Affairs. “Apprenticeships provide a great avenue for individuals to get trained for a very in-demand career. We are happy that this bill further promotes access to apprenticeships in our state.”

The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee.

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