Community colleges take on top issue facing Missouri businesses

Community colleges take on top issue facing Missouri businesses

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (KFVS) - Missouri's 12 community colleges established the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network on Friday, March 10 to address a long-standing challenge facing Missouri businesses - the availability of a skilled workforce.

This new network will tackle an issue that groups like the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other economic developers have been pointing to for years.

"Economic development, more than anything, depends on a talented workforce," Missouri Chamber of Commerce President Dan Mehan said. "No other issue is of more concern for businesses today."

The most significant change resulting from the creation of the network will be that, through their local community college, businesses will have access to resources at every college in the state.

"This will align our workforce development system directly with our economic development efforts," Missouri Community College Chairman and East Central College President Dr. Jon Bauer said. "Our goal is to improve customer service for businesses and help Missouri compete for job creation projects that too often go to other states."

Currently, certain barriers are in place which prevent colleges from working outside of their dictated service areas.

"By breaking down these barriers and drawing upon our collective resources, each college is going to be able to play to its strengths," Rob Dixon, Missouri Community College Association President, said. "We will be able to serve businesses in every square inch of the state."

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 funding by roughly 16 percent and community colleges funding by more than 9 percent.
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