I've heard the same thing over and over again as I meet with employers across the state: We have jobs but can't fill them.
These numbers prove it.
Missouri will have 67,000 online job listings by December 2022. Jobs in health care and technology were the most common.
This demand is too high for our population to keep up. We must upskill the current workforce to create our own talent if we don't increase our state's size.
It's for this reason that I would like to applaud Missouri General Assembly's passage of a law that will allow employers to do exactly that. House Bill 417 is now on its way to the governor. Mike Parson's desk, a program for short-term credential upskilling is created. The grant program reimburses employers who assist their employees in obtaining short-term credentials or certificates that are vital to Missouri's economy.
Imagine the possibilities: Employers can be reimbursed to train their employees in areas such as cybersecurity, welding and HVAC repair. They could also help with nursing or manufacturing technology. It's a win-win situation, as employees who are trained in new skills will be more likely to remain at the company and have better career opportunities.
The Missouri employer will now have an additional tool to help them retain and attract workers, thanks to the sponsors of the bill, Rep. Mike Henderson (R-Bonne Terre), and Sen. Karla Eslinger (R-Wasola).
Employers can receive up to $2,000 for each credential, and up to $30,000. A third of the funds are reserved for small and medium businesses. Employers also have a stake in the game - the percentage of matching funds is one of the criteria for evaluating grant applications.
There are already examples of program success. Colorado, Alaska Utah and Virginia have all had some version of a grant to help employers upgrade their employees. TechCred is flourishing in Ohio. Since the program's inception in 2019 more than 2100 employers have received funding to support more than 57,000 employees in earning new credentials. It's time that Missouri competes with the rest of the world for talent and jobs.
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry surveys CEOs and business leaders every year to determine the top concerns of Missouri employers. This year, 38% of employers cited it as their number one concern.
It is essential to implement programs that will quickly and effectively train workers in high-demand areas.
You legislators are to be commended for making upgrading credentials a priority.