Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that Missouri community colleges will invest $20 million through MoHealthWINS, a statewide effort to educate 4,600 more Missourians for health care jobs and careers. Under Gov. Nixon's leadership, Missouri's 12 community colleges and Linn State Technical College collaborated with the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the state's Workforce Investment Boards to apply for these federal funds to retrain unemployed Missourians for jobs and careers in growing health care fields.
The colleges estimate that MoHealthWINS will provide educational opportunities for approximately 4,600 additional Missourians. The grant specifically targets unemployed adult learners who are seeking new career opportunities.
"From the moment I became Governor, we have worked closely with Missouri's outstanding community colleges to train more Missourians for the jobs and careers of tomorrow and to get folks back to work," Gov. Nixon said. "Missouri's health care industry is growing quickly, and hospitals, clinics and other employers need more nurses, lab techs and other workers with the right education and skills today. By expanding educational opportunities for Missourians in these fields, we'll open the door for employment for more folks and keep our economy growing. This is a strategic investment in the growth of our economy and the future of our state."
Individual colleges will use these funds to develop or expand training programs in the health services and health sciences industry, which is a targeted industry under the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth. The application focused on this industry because it offers immediate and long-term employment opportunities and relatively high-wage jobs. Training will target specific occupations within this industry, including:
- Health information technologist
- Information systems
- Certified nursing aide
- Certified medical technician
- Licensed practical nurse
- Associate nursing degree
- Pharmacy technician
- Hearing instrument technician
- Medical lab technician
- Radiologic technician
- Maintenance technician
- Mechanical technician
These competitive funds were made available under the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program. When the grant process was announced, Gov. Nixon brought Missouri's community colleges together to submit a joint, comprehensive application. In the application, the colleges looked for ways to develop collaborative and targeted programs that would capitalize on the unique resources of each college, avoid duplication, and save money. Colleges will share equipment and faculty, emphasize online and distance learning and take other steps to expand access, improve efficiency and reduce redundancy.
Throughout the application process, senior leaders within Gov. Nixon's administration worked closely with community college and Workforce Investment Board leaders to develop and craft the grant application. In April 2011, Gov. Nixon submitted a strong letter in support of the application, noting that this investment supplemented his "Big Goal" for higher education: Increasing the percentage of Missourians who hold a postsecondary credential from 37 percent to 60 percent by 2020. Gov. Nixon also discussed the importance of this application directly with federal leaders, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"This grant is a major step forward for our community colleges in our efforts to expand opportunities for adult students across this state," said Zora Mulligan, executive director of the Missouri Community College Association. "Throughout this process, Gov. Nixon has been a steadfast partner, and his leadership was instrumental in making our application so successful. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Gov. Nixon and with the state's Workforce Investment Boards to turn this grant into real learning opportunities for folks in every corner of Missouri."
Gov. Nixon will visit several community colleges in the coming days to detail specific programs that will be developed or expanded as a result of this grant.
A copy of Gov. Nixon's letter in support of the application is available here.
A copy of the application summary with information about specific programs is available here.