via News-Press Now [link]

Two million jobs nationwide go unfilled due to a gap between workers’ skills and what advanced manufacturing requires, according to the respected Brookings Institution.

This matters if you are a job seeker in the technical fields who finds he or she lacks the preparation to compete for these positions.

And it matters just as much if you are a business that can’t keep its production lines moving because qualified workers are in short supply.

We give credit to a local partnership of business and education, the St. Joseph Workforce Development Alliance, which responded quickly when given a chance this summer to do something about this skills gap. On a limited budget and a tight timetable, the group was able to bring a valuable skills program to the community.

The collaborators include Missouri Western State University, Innovation Stockyard, the St. Joseph School District and the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. Local manufacturers assisted with providing initial funding for the two-semester program that began last week at Hillyard Technical School.

Missouri Western and Innovation Stockyard are providing instructors. The hard work is up to the first class of 24 high school seniors, who will take coursework and a final exam giving them the opportunity to earn the Manufacturing Technician Certification (MT1).

This credential was developed by the Manufacturing Skills Institute, a program of the Virginia Manufacturers Association. Specific coursework includes rigorous training in math and measurement; spatial reasoning; manufacturing technology; and quality processes.

A student who attains this will have certification that he or she has successfully completed a highly specialized training program based on manufacturing skills and techniques. The expectation is these students will be sought after by local and area industry.

That’s good for the students, local employers and the regional economy, which benefits through the growth of in-demand and higher-paying manufacturing jobs.