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Nixon Says Community Colleges Will Play Key Role in State’s Economic Turnaround
October 27, 2009
|Gov. Jay Nixon, third from left, visited the Emerson Center at
STLCC-Florissant Valley to discuss with STLCC officials and
local business leaders the need to provide training that will equip
future Missouri workers with skills to meet demands of high-tech,
The need for workers with vocational or technical training is growing quickly, and Missouri must be ready to keep up.
That was the central theme of a roundtable discussion led by Gov. Jay Nixon during a visit to the high-tech Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley yesterday. Nixon visited the campus to hear directly from STLCC administrators and local business leaders about strategies to help Missourians compete for 21st century jobs. After touring the Emerson Center’s Chemical Technology Lab, Nixon and the leaders discussed the need to train additional Missouri workers to meet the demands of high-tech, growing industries.
Just weeks ago, Nixon conducted a series of meetings with business executives across Missouri to address opportunities for and challenges to turning around the economy. In multiple communities, business leaders emphasized the need to invest in workforce training and development, especially at the community college level.
“To turn this economy around, Missouri must have the right workers with the right skills to compete for the jobs of tomorrow,” Nixon said. “Our community colleges are vital partners in these efforts. Together, we’re identifying the skills employers need in their workers and ensuring that our community colleges are providing programs that target those exact requirements. In the 21st century economy, Missourians are competing for jobs against workers from around the world, not just down the street. By making a serious investment in job training, we’ll ensure that Missouri’s work force keeps good businesses here, while attracting new employers as well.”
“As the global economy becomes even more intertwined, it is increasingly critical that Missourians possess the latest knowledge and skills to compete for the careers of the 21st century,” said Zelema Harris, St. Louis Community College chancellor. “Missouri’s community colleges, including St. Louis Community College, play a key role in making sure that happens. We appreciate Gov. Nixon’s strong interest in the community college system, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to ensure that more Missourians have access to the vital education we offer.”
According to data from the Missouri Department of Higher Education, Missouri’s 12 public community colleges experienced a 5.9 percent increase in enrollment from spring 2008 to spring 2009. In total, about 90,000 students attend community colleges. That is nearly 40 percent of the total enrollment in public institutions of higher education, including both two- and four-year institutions, in the state.
The demand for workers with postsecondary training, such as the training offered at a vocational school or community college, is growing rapidly. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3.9 million postsecondary vocational degrees or certificates were awarded between 2005 and 2006. That’s an increase of more than 30 percent over the number of those degrees awarded 10 years previously.
“In these challenging economic times, it’s clear that demand for higher education is increasing in Missouri,” Nixon said. “Our challenge will be to ensure that the types of trained workers businesses need are ready and available. This conversation, and others like it around the state, will ensure that our community colleges are prepared to accomplish just that mission.”
Nixon will continue to meet with community college and business leaders around Missouri in the coming weeks to formulate a plan to strengthen Missouri’s work force and spark economic recovery through vocational and technical training.