OTC pushes for more apprentice options

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the OTC Workforce Development team to educate local employers about the value of apprenticeships in the Springfield region as a solution to the workforce skills gap.

Sara Coatney is the Registered Apprenticeship Specialist with the Workforce Development team at Ozarks Technical Community College. She explained why they felt the event was needed. "A lot of people don't really know about all the great opportunities that are out there and the wide variety of occupations that we have now," said Coatney. "We figured an event would be great, inviting some people from different businesses and different institutions that are all working toward this workforce development goal, and we all need people."

Coatney said they've seen a "talent crisis" in Springfield where companies need more skilled workers than what's available. "The numbers just show with unemployment so low, and then we have a lower population and boomers aging out, so apprenticeships are a great answer to a problem that we are seeing."

Coatney explained how apprenticeships can be a great option for both apprentices and the employers facilitating them. "It gives them [businesses] a competitive advantage because we are all competing for those same qualified perfect candidates and there's not a lot of them out there so we do need to create our own," Coatney said. "We're seeing a big push in apprenticeships nation-wide and we want to be apart of that movement."

Derick Barnes, a local union member of Heavy Construction Laborers Local 663, talked about why he attended the breakfast. "There is a tremendous shortage of skilled workers and we pride ourselves on being the leaders in developing a skilled workforce," said Barnes. "The baby-boomers are the largest number of our workforce and they are going to be gone in the next five to seven years so we are working tirelessly to fill those positions back up."

A panel of apprenticeship experts and industry representatives will be available at the Apprenticeship Works Breakfast to answer questions from a moderator and guests. The event starts at 7:30 a.m. and will go until 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, November 15 at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce building located at 202 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway in Springfield. This event is free to attend, but registration is required. To register, email Alex Greiwe at alex@springfieldchamber.com.

Read the original version of this article at www.kspr.com.