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U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (left) met with students in an engineering class at St. Louis Community College during an Oct. 10 visit to the college’s Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing.
Photo: St. Louis Community College
This article is an excerpt from the December/January 2013 edition of the Community College Journal, which is published by the American Association of Community Colleges.
In Missouri, 23 percent of workers are employed in advanced manufacturing–related occupations. An initiative led by St. Louis Community College (STLCC) is earning praise—and funding—for its work to prepare another 3,300 residents for jobs in the high-demand field.
The Missouri Manufacturing Workforce Innovation Networks (MoManufacturingWINs) initiative is helping displaced workers and underskilled adults earn stackable credentials recognized and endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers. The credentials focus on five elements of manufacturing: production, industrial maintenance, welding, machining and transportation and logistics.
The initiative received a $15-million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in September to be distributed across its nine community college consortium members.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis highlighted the importance of advanced manufacturing during a visit in October to the college’s Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing, where she met with elected officials and college and business representatives.
“It’s important that those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own get back into the workplace and into just as competitive fields, if not more so, and be able to do so by obtaining credentials that mean something,” said Solis.
MoManufacturingWINs is also helping the state’s economy and providing employers with skilled workers. Manufacturing is “very important to the state and our economy overall,” Solis said. It has contributed $60 billion in direct and indirect benefits to Missouri’s economy.
As part of its State of the St. Louis Workforce research initiative (see video, below), STLCC surveyed 1,200 companies throughout the region earlier this year and discovered that 45 percent of manufacturers increased employment in the last 12 months. Another 48 percent planned on increasing employment in the next year.
“Modern manufacturing is undergoing a renaissance here in St. Louis and across our great state,” said Rod Nunn, vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions at STLCC.
Despite the change, many employers continue to report the shortage of skilled workers as a barrier to future expansion.
STLCC has had a “long legacy of serving the needs of Missouri’s top employers,” said STLCC Chancellor Myrtle E.B. Dorsey. “We are going to continue that legacy by providing opportunities through the MoManufacturingWINs grant to train skilled workers for high-demand careers," Dorsey said.
In addition to STLCC, other partner institutions include:
The initiative also has engaged several businesses throughout the state.
(Below) Video highlighting the 2012 State of the St. Louis Workforce event, which attracted more than 400 leaders from the St. Louis Metropolitan area.
Copyright ©2012 American Association of Community Colleges