Missouri's Talent for Tomorrow

Missouri Pinnacle Award for Workforce Development Nomination: Talent for Tomorrow

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Allyssa Miget

Email Address: allyssa.miget@ded.mo.gov

Agency Name: State of Missouri-Division of Workforce Development


Missouri's Talent for Tomorrow

Missouri has identified a growing gap in education and the workforce. The purpose of the Talent for Tomorrow initiative is to create a systematic or coordinated approach to better serve the workforce to be career ready and to meet business' needs to create a resilient workforce. Our vision statement for this project is "Every Missourian deserves an opportunity to earn a life with dignity." Missouri conducted a labor market analysis and ranks nearly last in all key performance indicators in the Midwest, such as GDP, quality and availability of our workforce, and productivity of our workforce. To be the best in the Midwest, Mardy Leathers-Director of Workforce Development, Rob Dixon- Director of Economic Development, and Zora Mulligan-Commissioner for Higher Education, have collaborated and coordinated efforts to mitigate this destructive problem.

Mardy, Rob, and Zora traveled nearly 2,000 miles in five cities and listened to more than 1,640 workforce development leaders, industry leaders, and leaders in higher education. Participants were asked why their regional economy performed the way it did for the last 5-10 years. Participants spent two hours wrestling with the issues Missouri's workforce faces. The qualitative data collected and were used to form a workforce and economic development strategy.

This initiative resulted in the Governor establishing a subcommittee made of seven cabinet members to analyze and revolutionize the approach Missouri takes to workforce. Missouri began re-inventing our approaches to performance, funding, and delivery to impact job growth, wage growth, and productivity growth. Missouri has begun to align various federal funds across state agencies to support workforce development initiatives. For example, the Governor allocated $3.8 million in apprenticeships through WIOA discretionary funds. This has resulted in 1,800 apprentices and numerous unique apprenticeship programs. Missouri has identified an untapped potential in our incarcerated individuals, able bodies, and those dislocated from secondary or post-secondary education. These targeted populations could create workforce productivity and availability within our workforce.

Subcommittees were established to support unique approaches to performance, funding, and delivery. This collaboration between local workforce development directors and state staff is considering different approaches to deliver job center services such as a chat function for the job seekers or pop up offices in court houses. The performance subcommittee is considering reporting on data points beyond what is required to be reported to USDOL, entitled beyond WIOA. This monitors Missouri's ability to influence and impact job growth, wage growth, and productivity growth.


Statement of results, accomplishments, impacts and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee's efforts were an exceptional contribution.

The Talent for Tomorrow initiative provided evidence that Missouri is in the top 10 states with a significant number of high school graduates. This makes the apprenticeship model an invaluable tool for workforce development and economic development. Missouri recognizes the earn and learn model to effectively train our workforce, especially given Missouri's high level of middle skills. The use of apprenticeships will increase Missouri's educational attainment, productivity, and wages. Apprenticeships will be utilized in unique modern models such as in developing digital skills and nontraditional apprenticeship programs. Missouri's expansion on the old model of apprenticeships will provide alternative approaches to higher education. The increase in Missouri's training and higher educational attainment will positively impact productivity and the economy. In November, Missouri hosted 14 United Kingdom Delegates to share best practices relating to apprenticeships and to connect our economies. This resulted in developing U.K. apprenticeship models like the digital apprenticeship aimed to train 100 apprentices in the Help Desk role. Governor Parson created the Office of Apprenticeship and Work Based Learning (OAWBL) to strategize and coordinate apprenticeships. OAWBL will also incorporate an interagency council for apprenticeships as a result of the Talent for Tomorrow Initiative. This council will strategize on recruitment, branding and marketing, identify viable talent pipelines, and consolidating federal resources to support industry sectors. The council will be made up of representatives from workforce development, higher education, social services, corrections, and elementary education. Missouri has successfully launched two cohorts of apprentices from behind prison walls. These apprentices receive the related training instruction during their sentence to then be placed by an employer immediately upon release. Additionally, the Talent for Tomorrow initiative has resulted in a joint task-force with the state and local workforce boards to assess the performance, funding and delivery of workforce development services.


Other significant contributions 

Missouri recognizes the workforce as our largest asset at 2.9 million in the workforce. Missouri's strategic investment in its workforce will have large dividends on the economy. Workforce development will be used as an economic development strategy by leveraging our largest asset to attract business. Governor Parson's commitment and endorsement in workforce development will organically grow the productivity of the workforce and naturally increase wages. Missouri is ranked in the top ten with high school graduation rates. This makes middle skills accessible for the labor market. Missouri strives to be innovative and modern in its approach or delivery to workforce development to better serve those unemployed, underemployed, ex-offenders, able bodied Missourians, and other Missourians looking to improve their career trajectory. Missouri will be leveraging funding and unique partnerships to successfully deliver services. For example, Missouri is working with the Department of Corrections to deliver apprenticeship programs to justice involved individuals. This reduces recidivism and increases Missouri's productivity in the workforce.


Examples of work