Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Wednesday that community colleges across the state will receive nearly $18 million in federal grants to jump start training programs for in-demand careers.
"Our top priority is to create good job and career opportunities for Missourians, and our community colleges are vital partners in this effort," Nixon said in a news release. "By expanding educational and training opportunities in high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing and public safety, we are preparing Missourians for career opportunities that exist today.”
The first grant focuses on an initiative called MoManufacturingWINs. Students participating in this program will receive certification recognized and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers. The program will promote advancement in areas of specific manufacturing of production, industrial maintenance, welding, machining and transportation and logistics.
The grant is required to work in accordance with the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program through the U.S. Department of Labor. It targets workers and other unemployed, underemployed, low-skilled workers and veterans.
St. Louis Community College will receive $4 million in funds, the largest portion of the grant allocated to local training programs. The remainder of the grant will be spread throughout the partner institutions, which include East Central College, Linn State Technical College, Metropolitan Community College, Mineral Area College, North Central Missouri College, Ozarks Technical Community College, State Fair Community College and St. Charles Community College.
“We’re excited,” said Rod Nunn, vice chancellor of economic development and workforce solutions at STLCC. "Manufacturers have trouble finding qualified workers to fill the job openings. They need a competitive workforce. They require professional, very skilled workers to drive manufacturing productivity.”
According to Nunn, more than half of the working age (ages 24-64) in the St. Louis metropolitan area have some college without a degree or no college at all.
The second grant announced by Nixon is for $2.9 million to the Southwest Missouri Public Safety and Emergency Medical Initiative. The three-year grant beginning Oct. 1 allows for new and expanded development at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo. This grant is also regulated through the Department of Labor's training program.
Students in the program will work towards industry credentials and associate’s degrees within law enforcement, applied science and fire science. Crowder College spokeswoman Cindy Brown said the institution also plans to start a new associate’s degree program in public management, encouraging students to complete a bachelor’s degree in public administration at Missouri State University.
“These students can do more training making them more marketable as an employee,” Brown said. “We can now expand our areas and additional programs, and even add more programs in the future.”
Expansion of these programs provides just the right opportunity to put people back to work, Nixon said in the release.
"Having the right education and the right skills is critical for competing for the careers of today and tomorrow," he said. "Advanced manufacturing and public safety are fields poised for continued growth in Missouri. These programs will help more Missourians compete for jobs in these dynamic industries."