A $3 million grant to the City of Springfield‘s Department of Workforce Development in partnership with Ozarks Technical Community College will provide training opportunities for individuals seeking to enter the healthcare industry. The grant funds from the U.S. Department of Labor will provide 372 individuals the opportunity for tuition-free training and certifications in health care related occupations, specifically Behavioral Support Specialists, Nursing Assistants, and Registered Nurses.
Ozarks’ Promise, the program funded by the grant in the Ozark Region, was the only grant awarded in the state of Missouri and was one of 23 grants awarded nationwide.
According to the Department of Labor’s grant announcement, “Funded by fees paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the U.S. under the H-1B temporary visa program, these grants are intended to raise the technical skill levels of American workers and, over time, help businesses reduce their reliance on temporary visa programs.”
The coalition that applied for the grant seeks to support economic growth and strengthen the pipeline of skilled workers in the Ozark Region of southwest Missouri through the provision of tuition-free training opportunities in the H1-B Visa certified industry of health care. The focus is to provide unemployed, underemployed, incumbent workers, and disadvantaged populations increased access to high-quality, tuition-free education and training opportunities.
Mike Peters, Vice President Mercy Government Relations-Missouri, believes ”Several factors are creating a need for more health care services in our region, and at the core of providing those services is a growing supply of trained workers. The America’s Promise grant is an important addition to the equation of keeping the supply equal to the growing demand.”
Many regional health care training programs are operating at full capacity and therefore are forced to reject qualified applicants for education and training. Ozarks Technical Community College is forced to turn away an average of 25 percent of qualified registered nursing applicants. This capacity issue is directly related to limited program resources. By increasing program resources and removing financial barriers, the grant will allow 372 individuals to enter or advance within the health care industry.
“Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Dr. Steven Bishop, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Ozarks Technical Community College. According to Bishop, “This grant removes financial barriers for deserving students and allows them to pursue rewarding careers that are in high-demand.”
“We are so grateful to the Department of Labor for their support of our proposal and for the administration’s commitment to growing our economy. This is a real shot in the arm for the Ozark Region. I am especially grateful to our partners and shared true commitment to building a better workforce, demonstrating that together we are unstoppable,” said Mary Ann Rojas, director of the City of Springfield’s Department of Workforce Development.
Additional support was provided by:
Branson Area Chamber of Commerce
Burrell Behavioral Health
Citizens Memorial Health
Clark Community Behavioral Health Center
Missouri Coalition for Community Behavioral Health
Ozark Region Workforce Development Board
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Springfield-Greene County Health Department
Written by Megan Short, communications coordinator at City of Springfield Dept. of Workforce Development.