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Missouri’s governor looks to high schools and community colleges to help address labor shortage

Missouri’s governor looks to high schools and community colleges to help address labor shortage

Governor Mike Parson takes a look inside a vehicle at the General Motors plant in eastern Missouri’s Wentzville (September 29, 2022 photo courtesy of the governor’s Flickr page)

As companies across Missouri face labor shortages, Governor Mike Parson (R) says it’s crucial to get more high school students ready to enter the workforce when they graduate from high school.

Parson spoke on 939 the Eagle’s “Wake Up Mid-Missouri.”

“We’ve either got to get them trained or we’ve got to get them into a community college or we just got to get them right into the workforce and put them out there. And we’ve got to make sure they know that’s okay. Not everybody is going to go to a four-year college,” Parson says.

The state Department of Economic Development (DED) says Missouri’s August unemployment rate was 2.5 percent, which is the latest available data. Governor Parson tells listeners that while it’s the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years in Missouri, it also presents challenges.

“Now that’s something that we like to kind of brag about because the economy is doing so well, but the truth is we (Missouri) still have over 100,000 jobs out there (that) we can’t fill,” says Parson.

He predicts more people will return to the workforce, when the federal government’s emergency declaration ends.

Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) director Chris Chinn says the labor shortage is also impacting farmers and ranchers across the state. She tells 939 the Eagle that Missouri pork producers and other farmers are working 12-16 hour days, because they can’t find help.

“A lot of these farmers are having a really tough time with labor and trying to find people to work. It’s no different than any other business in the state of Missouri, you know labor is a challenge. And our farmers and ranchers just keep going. They don’t complain, they just get that work done. If it takes a little longer every day, that’s what they do,” Chinn says.

You can hear the full interview with Governor Parson here.