WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Officials with Missouri State University-West Plains and the South Central Workforce Investment Board (SCWIB) recently inked a “memorandum of understanding” outlining services each party will provide as part of the Rural Revitalization and Recovery Project made possible with a $2.5 million grant awarded to the university last fall from the U.S. Department of Labor through its Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Program.
The grant, which runs from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2017, is funding several new academic programs in allied health and agriculture for displaced workers in the area, other unemployed and underemployed adults, and veterans. The focus of these programs will be on “green” and/or sustainable jobs, university officials said.
“Missouri State-West Plains is committed to meeting the educational needs of the people in our region, and we’re mandated by our mission from the state to do just that – helping people better their lives and the lives of their families through education,” said Dennis Lancaster, interim dean of academic affairs. “These programs, funded by the federal government through the TAACCCT grant and offered with our workforce investment board partners at the local and state levels, are leading the way for us to meet that commitment and our mission in a new and exciting way.”
“I am excited to see leaders and organizations in our community working together to accomplish a goal that is essential to the community’s future,” said SCWIB Chairman Garland Barton. “That goal is to provide training to individuals who must have it to find employment or career growth in to jobs that make them proud. Well-trained employees who are proud of the work they perform are an asset to themselves, their families, their employers and their community. Through this partnership with Missouri State-West Plains, we will accomplish this goal and build a strong community of work-ready individuals.”
Under the agreement. Missouri State-West Plains will deliver basic and technical skill training to grant participants within two specific industries – health information technology and agri-business. Educational programs available include a certificate program in medical billing and coding that will seamlessly transfer into the Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology degree currently being developed, as well as 12 certificate options in the agri-business realm: agricultural business, animal science, equine studies, general agriculture, natural resources, plant science, wildlife management, alternative energy, public outreach and education, entrepreneurship, culinary arts and small business management, all of which will seamlessly transfer into either the Associate of Science in Agriculture, Associate of Applied Science in General Agriculture or the Associate of Applied Science in Entrepreneurship degrees. Classes for these programs may be offered in West Plains, Mountain Grove and online, university officials said.
The university also will provide SCWIB informational materials about the programs which will be distributed in Missouri Career Centers in the area so job seekers are aware of these training opportunities. In addition, university officials will establish and manage a regional advisory committee made up of representatives from the university, SCWIB, the Missouri Career Center in West Plains and other state agencies and industry leaders.
University officials also will work with area employers to develop and update training programs, conduct needs assessments, develop job postings and internships, and conduct post-employment follow-up on such topics as wage data, time of placement and name of employer and provide the information to SCWIB officials.
SCWIB officials will determine eligibility of potential students for these programs and direct them to take the National Career Readiness Certificate test at either the university or the Missouri Career Center. Once testing is completed, job seekers will be referred to Missouri State-West Plains or to other remediation and further testing as appropriate.
SCWIB officials also will provide supportive services and pay training fees to job seekers who need them and cannot obtain them from another source to complete their training, provided they meet all eligibility guidelines. In addition, they will gather information on employment and training needs in the industry sectors covered by the grant.
“This agreement provides an added ‘pathway’ – a new term for us at Missouri State-West Plains – for area residents to access the education and training they need to get a job, a better job, and/or to explore additional career opportunities made possible through their success in these certificate and degree programs,” Lancaster said.
For more information about the TAACCCT grant, the programs available and how to apply, contact TAACCCT Grant Project Manager Sheila Barton at 417-255-7784 or SheilaBarton@MissouriState.edu.