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New state office will promote apprenticeships, work-based learning

ST. LOUIS – Gov. Mike Parson recently inaugurated a new way to help Missourians train for and get jobs. His Executive Order 19-20 could help individuals steer a path to a good future while boosting the state’s economy. 

The executive order established the Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning within the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (MDHEWD). 

Parson signed the order Nov. 12 at the second annual Apprenticeship Missouri Summit in Columbia, M0. 

“I couldn’t wait to do my apprenticeship,” said Kim Burris, who is waiting on a spot with the Ironworkers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program. “You get, while you’re learning – that’s the greatest thing ever.”

The Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning aims to increase the number of participants in apprenticeships. It will also work toward a statewide strategy to expand and modernize apprenticeships throughout Missouri. 

“We will continue working to increase apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities,” Parson said, noting that, “We have some of the hardest-working and talented individuals right here in Missouri.”

Continuing, he said, “With a united vision I truly believe we can create the strongest, most competitive workforce and be prepared to fill the jobs of the future.” 

Missouri currently has 473 registered programs involving more than 3,600 employers and 15,189 active apprentices.   

The state ranks second in the nation for completed apprenticeships and recently reached the 10,000 mark. 

Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said the establishment of the program “will give us the foundation to take these programs to the next level. 

“We look forward to engaging business and industry stakeholders, higher education institutions, and other partners to continue building Registered Apprenticeship programs to help train Missouri’s workforce.”

The summit, held during National Apprenticeship Week, also celebrated Missouri’s high ranking and 10,000 milestone.  

The annual event also featured presentations and panels from partner organizations, employer and national perspectives. 

“We are excited Gov. Parson has made workforce development a priority and recognizes the importance that Registered Apprentices play in providing employers with a skilled labor market,” said Mardy Leathers, director of the Office of Workforce Development. 

The MDHEWD recognized the efforts of businesses and educational partners throughout the state with three awards: 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation, through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, was recognized as the 2019 Apprenticeship Missouri Partner of the Year. 
  • Metropolitan Community College was recognized as the 2019 Apprenticeship Missouri Provider of the Year. 
  • IBM was recognized as the 2019 Apprenticeship Missouri Employer of the Year. 

There are five core components of Registered Apprenticeship: direct employer involvement, structured on-the-job training, related instruction, rewards for skills gains and National Occupational Credential. 

For a complete list of apprenticeships in St. Louis, go to

Bill Beene Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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