St. Charles County leaders joined St. Charles Community College March 14 at RK Stratman, Inc., to sign a proclamation affirming the college’s role in the new Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network and its ongoing commitment to its workforce partners.
This proclamation comes less than a week after a joint announcement was made by all 12 of Missouri’s community colleges at the state capitol, establishing the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network to address a longstanding challenge facing Missouri businesses – the availability of a skilled workforce.
The new network will tackle what groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other economic developers have said for years, namely that the state’s workforce system needs to change in order for Missouri to compete with other states for job creation projects.
“It can be difficult to recruit employees with the skill sets we need already in place,” said Heather Schneider, training and communication coordinator at RK Stratman. “Fortunately, we have been partners with SCC for more than 15 years now. This partnership has allowed us to invest in manufacturing targeted training.”
With this network, college officials say SCC will be able to continue strong partnerships, like that of RK Stratman, but also expand and establish new ones to better serve the state of Missouri.
“We feel proud of the work we have done, with the help of SCC and the state of Missouri, to invest back into our local workforce with skills training that benefits our employees and the state’s economy,” Schneider said.
“I want people to understand what an extraordinary agreement this is,” said Todd Richardson, Missouri Speaker of the House, said at the statewide event held March 9. “If you look at the economic development activity that happens in our state, community colleges are an essential component of the state’s economic engine, and this agreement today is only going to improve their ability to serve the needs of the state and help us develop the type of trained educated workforce that today’s employers need.”
The most significant change resulting from the creation of the network is that through their local community college, businesses will have access to resources at every college in the state.
Previously, procedural and geographic barriers prevented colleges from working outside of their mandated service areas. This meant that if a business approached a college with a specific training need, but that college didn’t have expertise in that field, then the business may not have been able to get the workforce training its employees needed.
“This change will allow us to better focus on meeting the needs of businesses and industries at no additional cost to the state,” said Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president. “Together, we will leave no stone unturned when serving businesses and students in the state of Missouri.”
“By breaking down these barriers and drawing upon our collective resources, each college is going to be able to play to its strengths,” said Rob Dixon, Missouri Community College Association president and CEO.
According to Dixon, making the most of resources is going to be incredibly important given the cuts that have been proposed for community colleges and workforce development. The FY18 budget being drafted by the legislature would cut workforce training by roughly 16 percent and community colleges by more than 9 percent.
“We understand the difficult budget situation facing the state, and with this partnership, we hope to help grow the state’s economy in two ways,” Dixon said. “First, we want to help Missourians learn the skills they need to earn higher pay, and second, we hope to connect Missouri businesses with the workforce they need to grow and create jobs.”