JEFFERSON CITY — State Sen. Lincoln Hough, R-Springfield, issued the following statement relating to the governor signing Senate Bill 672, the omnibus workforce development measure:
“This piece of legislation directly helps our businesses, communities and constituents in a very direct manner. I firmly believe that education and training are generational differences for our community.
“Three years ago, we passed Senate Bill 68, which has helped spur advanced career training across Missouri and aid businesses in the upgrading of manufacturing facilities in Missouri. On that day I said, ‘The single best asset the state of Missouri has is the people we represent. We represent remarkable people who are proud to call Missouri home. The Fast Track Incentive Grant is about helping them and providing them with an opportunity to provide for their families and to improve themselves.’
“And it has. This is why the passage of SB 672 was so vital.
“Missouri continues to see workforce shortages statewide. The largest shortages continue to be in skilled trades, patient care, manufacturing and maintenance. One of the primary reasons is an inability to find trained workers.
“In order for Missouri to meet the workforce and economic needs of today and the future, it must have Missourians with the skills necessary to fill the high-demand occupation areas. Fast Track is strategically positioned to continue addressing this issue. It provides an education and training opportunity for adults who want to develop new skills to advance their careers, well-being and quality of life for themselves and their family.
“There were more than 96,000 new online job postings in Missouri in June 2022. Four of the top five advertised occupations are in fields that can be served by the Fast Track program, including nursing, software development, computer occupations and management. In Missouri, approximately 500,000 adults who earn less than $40,000 have some college and no degree. Fast Track is an opportunity for them to pick up where they left off and remove the financial burden that might be standing in the way.
“Currently, women represent approximately 79 percent of program participation. Interest in the program continues to grow, with applications and student participation in the program doubling between 2020 and 2021. Just under 400 students are participating in the program.
“Senate Bill 672 removes potential financial burdens from approved apprenticeship programs; expands the program to include adults who are participating in high-demand occupation training programs, such as nursing and EMS training, through high-quality affiliate approved programs; ensures that Fast Track participants are committed to Missouri with at least a two-year residency requirement; and extend the program’s sunset requirement to allow future Legislatures to assess its impact.
“Despite what some may say, this bill is for U.S. citizens and legal residents only.
“I am proud of SB 672 and hopeful for the potential to impact the lives of so many Missourians.”