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Money may be on the way for skilled worker training in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri senators, on Tuesday, debated a bill that could provide a grant system to pay for skilled worker training at colleges and universities.

Gov. Mike Parson made the work force development program one of his top priorities when the legislative session began. The intent of the initiative is to ease the lack of skilled workers in Missouri.

Senator Andrew Koenig, R-District 15, said similar programs have been implemented nationwide and, in the long-haul, save states money when looking to train skilled workers.

“It has been proven that to be the case in other states. Every state that has adopted it has saved money because you do it at a lower cost,” Koenig said.

Senator Bill White, R–32, said he thinks it shouldn’t be the role of government to decide which jobs need to be filled.

He said he doesn’t know if that was the intent of the bill, but he’s concerned about the impact.

“This looks like an awful lot like a central planning approach to education, and trying to manage people into the appropriate roles that we the government think they should play,” White said.

White also said he could see the bill having success if it is tied to other legislation, like education savings accounts. Other opponents to the bill think it would allocate so little funding that it would have little effect.

The funding for the grant program would change on a year-by-year basis, according to the bill.

Supporters for the bill said it has been successful in filling skilled workforce gaps in other states where implemented, and even saves those states money in the long run.

Information from the Missouri School of Journalism contributed to this report.

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