Worker shortage has Missouri governor focused on STEM education

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson visited a south Kansas City Cerner campus Wednesday to talk about a growing problem for businesses-- a shortage of qualified workers.

The upcoming special legislative session is focused on better preparing students for careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Cerner is in the process of building multiple office buildings in south Kansas City that may eventually employ thousands of new workers.

But there's a shortage of technology workers all across the world, and Cerner says it faces challenges establishing a pipeline of talent to fill its Kansas City openings with skilled talent.

Parson says that's a problem employers face all across the Show Me State, and a big reason behind the governor calling the legislature into special session next week to pass a bill to ensure computer science courses are taught, and kids get credit for taking them, at all high schools in Missouri.

"It doesn’t matter if you’re in agriculture, whether you’re in big business or small business, technology is going to play a role in the future," Parson said. "So start preparing these young boys and girls in school, all the way from middle school to high school, is very important right now."

Employers told the governor that too many parents are focused on their children becoming lawyers or doctors, leaving many good paying careers, that don't requre a degree, unfilled.

State Sen. Jason Holsman says on any given day, Kansas City needs 500 more commercial truck drivers. And the state is focused on providing students the tools they need to get into those careers.

Parson says he's asked the Department of Revenue not to suspend commercial drivers licenses for non-driving offenses so that Missourians can continue to work.

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