By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
Workforce development remains a big need in St. Joseph and a
major focus of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber President Patt Lilly says a lack of skilled workers is
a crying need across the country, not just in northwest Missouri. And Lilly
adds some of that need is filled when laborers notice a little more training
might add quite a bit to their paycheck.
“Maybe a guy working on the manufacturing line, doing a lower-pay
job, decides, you know that welder looks like he does pretty well. He’s got a
new pick-up out in the parking lot. Maybe I’ll learn to be a welder, right?”
Lilly says a more concerted effort is being pushed by the
Chamber. He says the St. Joseph School District is working with North Central Missouri
College and Missouri Western State University to offer more skill-based
Lilly says the Chamber hopes to help by expanding the
apprenticeship program at Hillyard Technical Center that matches high school
students with local businesses.
“Getting some training and education; that training and education
begins at Hillyard and they go practice that if you well at various entities,”
according to Lilly. “We now have 22 employers in the community that are part of
our apprentice program. It’s the largest in the state.”
Lilly says many St. Joseph businesses could expand, if they
had enough skilled workers. Lilly says the demand for labor has driven up
salaries in the area, making the St. Joseph area the third or fourth
highest-paying community in Missouri.
“Today in St. Joseph there are good jobs available. They go wanting
if you will,” Lilly says. “I think that trend will just continue.”
Lilly says Kansas City and St. Louis lead the state in worker
compensation with St. Joseph and Columbia vying for the third spot.