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Missouri Community Colleges Receive $19.7 Million Grant to Train Workers for STEM Careers

October 14, 2014

MoSTEMWINS photo  
The MoSTEMWINs grant will provide funds to develop programs to train Missourians for jobs in transportation, manufacturing, information technology, health services/health sciences, and science support.

Missouri’s community colleges and the State Technical College of Missouri have received a $19.7 million grant to train an estimated 1,900 workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and to expand the state’s ability to collect data about students enrolled in workforce programs.

The grant, awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant program, will bring the state’s public two-year institutions together to improve the way they educate adult learners – especially those who have lost jobs because of the impact of foreign trade and other negative economic trends.

The project the grant will fund is called MoSTEMWINs. It will train Missourians for jobs in transportation, manufacturing, information technology, health services/health sciences, and science support. The consortium colleges chose to focus on STEM jobs because of those jobs’ importance to the state’s strategic plan for economic growth and positive long-term employment prospects.

“Through programs such as MoSTEMWINs, the state of Missouri and our community colleges have helped lead the nation in preparing students to step into good jobs in fast-growing fields,” Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said. “These grants will create further valuable opportunities for our students, and enhance Missouri’s economic competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

St. Louis Community College will receive more than $1.9 million from the award. STLCC and other Missouri community colleges will use these funds to implement programs related to information technology, health sciences, transportation, advanced manufacturing, and life/general sciences.

STLCC in September partnered with the St. Louis Business Journal to present the State of St. Louis Workforce Report, which focused on the local demand for STEM talent. Steve Long, associate vice chancellor of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group, recently discussed the findings on St. Louis Public Radio.

“When we looked at all measures of growth, STEM occupations in St. Louis grow at a faster rate than non-STEM occupations — 13 percent to 8 percent,” said Steve Long, associate vice chancellor of St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group. “In St. Louis alone, the STEM wage differential is 79 percent in terms of the median income of a STEM job versus a non-STEM job.”

In St. Louis, most of the STEM jobs are information technology related — telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and data processing, Long said.

“Eight of the top 10 job advertisements in the STEM area are all IT kinds of jobs. St. Louis is an IT concentration.”

MoSTEMWINs will build on the success of Missouri’s two previous TAACCCT grant projects, MoHealthWINs and MoManufacturingWINs, awarded in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Nearly 5,500 Missourians have received training through those programs to date. Almost half of all participants were unemployed when they started and over 40 percent of all participants are from minority populations.

MoWINs programs have significantly higher than average retention rates – about 80 percent – despite the fact that many program participants have never before demonstrated postsecondary success. Eighty-seven percent were not ready for college-level work in at least one area when they entered the program, and 40 percent had never attempted college.

In the first two MoWINs projects, participants earned stackable credentials that form the first steps of their journey to change their lives and families’ fortunes.

MoSTEMWINs will also continue partnerships between community colleges and the state’s workforce investment boards; the Departments of Economic Development, Higher Education and Labor; the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center; and local employers.