Missouri Successfully Bridges Skills Divide with Apprenticeships

A new website is connecting Missouri employers that offer apprenticeships with job seekers eager to develop new skills while earning a paycheck. Apprentice Connect is part of a broad effort to develop talent in Missouri by expanding apprenticeship opportunities in a range of industries.

“We are seeing explosive growth in apprenticeships in sectors like information technology, health care, hospitality and finance, not to mention, the public sector and skilled trades,” said Mardy Leathers, director of Workforce Development at the Missouri Office of Higher Education and Workforce Development. “We are seeing growth in organizations creating small programs with up to three to five apprentices with income potential averaging $66,000 annually. Smaller programs with high impact.”  

Apprentice Connect is a collaboration of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. The website and related promotion are providing new transparency for job seekers and employers around how to create or seek apprenticeships.

“We view Apprentice Connect as an important tool to advance equity in the state,” said Zora Mulligan, commissioner of the Missouri Office of Higher Education and Workforce Development. “The tool allows us to reach a more diverse audience and reduce barriers some populations experienced in the past.”

With more than 14,000 currently enrolled in Missouri apprenticeship programs, the state ranks second nationally in apprenticeships and seeks to sustain the momentum. Fueled by more than $12 million in federal grants since 2017, employers and higher education team up to develop and deliver training programs that lead to nationally recognized credentials on more than 435 programs. The majority of funding is directed to community and technical colleges.

“There are great opportunities for other states to replicate this model,” said Leathers. “The key is to not try to go it alone. True collaboration has been key in Missouri.”  

The Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development contracts with the Missouri Chamber to manage and maintain the website.