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Missouri chamber touts apprenticeship program

by Cameron Gerber | November 16, 2022 at 4:01 a.m.

As industries and businesses celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is highlighting its own efforts to provide experience opportunities in the tech industry.

The chamber has ushered more than 2,000 apprentices through a training program using funds from a $6 million federal grant, according to a news release. The 2020 Closing The Skills Gap grant from the U.S. Department of Labor was earmarked to expand apprenticeship opportunities in the state's emerging information technology sector.

So far, there have been 719 participants who have completed their apprenticeships through the program, with 2,090 currently enrolled in the program. It is slated to expire in 2024, with around 5,300 people expected to take part before it draws to a close.

Partners in the program include tech firms LaunchCode, Bitwise Industries, CyberUp, Oracle Center and Cyderes. The program seeks to address needs in computer programming, cybersecurity, network support and other areas of the tech industry.

"Missouri's technology companies are fueling job growth in our state," Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan said in a statement. "We are supporting that growth by providing funding directly to Missouri employers so that they can set up apprenticeship programs. By empowering our employers, we are helping create good-paying jobs and apprenticeship training systems that will last long after the grant funding has been spent."

The program boasts a diverse range of participants, according to the chamber, with 925 people of color, 865 women, 162 people with disabilities and 58 veterans participating.

Those participating in the program have received nationally recognized credentials, permanent employment, promotions and salary increases, the chamber said. Apprentices earn an average of $61,000 a year upon completion of the program, Mehan said.

"We are changing lives through this program," he said.

The Apprenticeship Closing the Skill Gap grant program awarded more than $99.2 million in total grant funding to 28 grantees across the country in early 2020. The Missouri chamber was the only grantee in the Show-Me State.

Missouri ranks third in the nation for completed apprenticeships, fourth for new apprenticeships and sixth for active apprenticeships, according to the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

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