Missouri’s 12 community colleges have created a new workforce training network.
Until now, community colleges could only work with businesses located in their geographical service area. Under this new agreement, called the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network, Mark James, Chancellor of Kansas City's Metropolitan Community College, says the state’s colleges can share resources, expertise and even personnel.
“We are essentially pledging to collaborate and assist each other if and when needed to meet any businesses’ workforce or training needs.”
James says over the next three years, 2 million Missouri jobs will need skills beyond a high school education and this agreement will help community colleges provide that training.
“For example, we have a very advanced associates degree in cybersecurity that meets NSA standards and we’re probably a little bit ahead of the average out there,” explains James. “So say a company comes to the St. Louis area and has an extensive need for cybersecurity training and if our counterparts over there didn’t have that particular program, we could share that easily with them and maybe even serve as subject matter experts for them so they could simply take what we’ve already pioneered and run with it.”
James says the new arrangement could be especially beneficial to more remote colleges.
“It allows some of the smaller, more rural community colleges, who don’t have perhaps as vast of resources as we do here in the city ... it becomes a force multiplier, it helps bolster them.”
By giving community colleges across the state access to more resources, the chancellor says the new arrangement should provide more training options for students, including professionals already in the workplace.
Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.