Metropolitan Community College Feeds Manufacturing Workforce

By Ian Ritter

It’s a tough environment to find employees no matter what industry you’re in. But manufacturing is faced with a major skilled-labor shortage. Metropolitan Community College has worked to change that, and a new grant from the U.S. Department of Labor could give it even more of a boost, adding new employees to a workforce in need of new talent.

MCC received $2.2 million from the department as part of the four-year Missouri Apprenticeships in Manufacturing Program, which was given a total of $12 million to start pre-apprentice and apprentice-training programs. For its part, MCC’s apprenticeship program has been effective since 2017 and concentrates on automation and systems, logistics, and production and maintenance. It currently supports about 100 apprentices in the Kansas City area.

The grant will help start more apprenticeships at local businesses and give students on-the-job education that goes toward certificates and associates degrees, as well as a paycheck.

And such a program is needed, as Kansas City needs to replace 50 percent of its skilled-manufacturing workers in the next five years, says Kimberly Beatty, MCC’s chancellor.  Advanced manufacturing makes up 8.6 percent of Missouri’s workforce, according to MCC, and grew by 17,555 workers between 2012 and 2017.