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.
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 training.
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.