March 5, 2020

Education is still the best way to develop a workforce

The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce's monthly Good Morning Springfield is a great chance to rub elbows (literally, now that we've stopped shaking hands) with other business folks in Greene County.

The breakfasts are a community pep rally and there really is a lot to cheer about in our region.

This morning, a guest panel discussed ways of bringing more people into the workforce, especially important because of the region's low rates of unemployment and high underemployment.

They were all great programs and worth highlighting. But they're not a long-term solution to the labor shortage the way that education is.

Missouri has to put more emphasis in educating our kids, from pre-K all the way up to college and trade schools. It's an investment that will pay dividends for generations.

One of the reasons I'm running for office is because our legislature hasn't been willing to make that investment.

One of this morning's panelists worked to find ways for retiring servicewomen and men to use the skills they learned after they leave the military.

The Arc of the Ozarks was there, talking about how some of their clients have been able to find jobs.

The other two panelists had programs that we wouldn't need as much if we were doing a better job of educating kids in the first place.

A representative from Penmac Staffing in Springfield talked about matching up employers with "second-chance" employees who may have a criminal record.

And while I disagree with Governor Mike Parson on a whole lot of things, the Fast Track program is one he got right. A representative from Ozarks Technical Community College was there to talk about how that has improved the lives of a whole lot of people.

Again, if we educate our kids properly — right from the beginning — they're less likely to go have criminal records in the first place and they're more likely to start their careers in a better place, rather than starting over years later.

This isn't one of my fiery political posts, this is the simultaneously boring and fascinating nuts and bolts of running a government and deciding how the people's money should be invested.

If you made it this far, it's probably because you want a representative in state government who actually understands these issues. Please help me get there.