Missouri News: Governor Mike Parson Continues Focus on Top Priority – Workforce Development, Encourages Legislature to Pass Fast Track

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Missouri Governor Mike Parson encouraged legislators to pass Fast Track, a top priority in the Governor’s agenda to move Missouri forward.  The Governor traveled to businesses and training facilities with Senator Gary Romine and Representative Kathy Swan to highlight Fast Track, the Governor’s priority that would help reskill Missouri workers to meet workforce demand.

“No matter what corner of the state we visit, individuals and businesses share the same concerns about the future of our workforce,” Governor Mike Parson said.  “Businesses cannot find the workers that they need to help their businesses grow.  At the same time, we have folks who need good paying jobs, but they don’t have the right skills.  This legislation helps solve both problems, and I applaud Speaker Haahr, Representative Swan, and Senator Romine for their leadership on this issue.”

If passed, the Fast Track financial aid program would target adults working toward degree programs that would fill a high-need skills gap.  The proposed program would provide tuition assistance in high-demand fields for Missourians who meet the eligibility criteria.

“We’re committed to working with our counterparts in the Senate to pass this legislation,” Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr said.  “This is a great example of a bold solution that will put Missouri out in front of other states who are dealing with this challenge.  The more competitive we are, the better our chances for creating more jobs and greater opportunities for our citizens.”

The legislation passed (101-49) in the House on February 28 and awaits action by the Senate.

“The Governor’s priority directly addresses one of the top challenges facing businesses in today’s economy,” Senator Gary Romine said.  “Fast Track will benefit thousands of Missourians and does so in a way that will spur future growth and opportunity for the citizens of our state.”

“I look forward to working with the Senate to get this bill to the Governor’s desk,” Representative Kathy Swan said.  “Fast Track makes higher education more accessible to Missourians and will help us to fill high-demand jobs.”

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 data puts the median household income for Missouri at $51,713.  Additionally, 755,000 Missourians have some college experience but no degree.  Fast Track will allow thousands of these Missourians the opportunity to pursue higher education opportunities in high-paying, high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing, computer science, and healthcare, which will achieve greater economic success for their families.

“This program addresses critical gaps in our workforce,” Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said.  “We have programs that help high school graduates, but what we lack is a way to encourage and assist adult learners in need of new skills.  As the nature of work changes, these individuals are often the most vulnerable.  That’s why this legislation is so important.”

“Over the last year, we’ve looked a lot at our economy, we’ve traveled around the state, hearing from businesses in every corner of our state,” Director of Economic Development Rob Dixon said.  “We heard loud and clear the need for a program just like this one. Our businesses, our citizens know the challenges, and they deserve solutions.  This legislation delivers solutions.”