Gov. Mike Parson got a look at some popular Metropolitan Community College workforce programs during an Aug. 23 visit to the Business & Technology campus.
Parson, accompanied at BT by Missouri Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan, has been crisscrossing the state to promote Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grants for students. The scholarship program focuses on adult learners, with inducements to live and work in Missouri for three years after career training.
Fast Track was designed to address shortages of skilled workers in high-need technical fields. “It’s challenging for us to meet those demands,” Parson said.
“We’re highly committed to it,” MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty told him. Later, as she and Parson spoke to reporters, she added that MCC has been partnering “upstream and downstream” on workforce training, with K-12 districts, four-year universities and area businesses.
BT division chair Mike Cline led the governor’s entourage on tours of the welding, HVAC and utility lineman areas as well as the exhibit hall space dedicated to the Kansas City Construction Career Academy, an early college program now in Year 2.
The longest stop of the tour was in the Burns & McDonnell Design Innovation Lab, a program that pairs top computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) students with mentors/instructors from the Kansas City engineering firm.
Since launch in Fall 2017, 23 students have completed the program, with 17 of those hired by Burns & McDonnell. Two other students have gone to work for other companies.
One of the Innovation Lab success stories is Anne Owen, who met the governor along with two other Burns & McDonnell employees. Owen had a long career in health care before deciding she needed a change. Interested in engineering and architecture, she headed back to school — inspired by her daughter, who attended MCC-Business & Technology. There she enjoyed computer-aided drafting and design “immensely,” she told Parson. Owen now works as an electrical drafter/detailer at Burns & Mac.
“You’re really the type of person we’re looking for in the Fast Track program,” the governor said.
The Missouri Department of Higher Education just launched the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant, effective with this academic year. The program provides tuition assistance for adults working toward a certificate, degree or industry-recognized credential in high-demand fields.
Applicants must be older than 25 (although younger people can apply if they haven’t been enrolled in school for at least two years). Grant recipients must live and work in Missouri for three years after graduation to prevent the grant from converting to a loan.
“We know the demand’s out there,” Parson told reporters at BT. “We’ve just gotta make sure we get people prepared for that. . . . These community colleges are really at the forefront of making this happen.”
Metropolitan Community College offers training in dozens of “Gold Collar” career pathways. Gold Collar Jobs pay a median wage of $30,000 to $80,000, are in high demand locally, and require an associate degree or less — in some cases no more than one semester or one year of training.
TV coverage of the governor’s visit to MCC:
WDAF, Fox 4: https://youtu.be/4L6YPYHZg7I
KMBC 9: https://youtu.be/cTvVRgLUkqs
KSHB, 41 Action News: https://youtu.be/hpWiESfhC3Q