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Parson creates new office tasked with growing apprenticeship opportunities with executive order


In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Gov. Mike Parson established the Office of Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning (OAWBL) through an executive order Tuesday.

The new office will be housed under the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development with the objective of increasing the number of individuals in a variety of apprenticeships to 20,000 by 2025, the executive order said. It will work with all state agencies. 

The office will also coordinate with the U.S. Department of Labor to increase federal apprenticeship opportunities in the state, according to the Governor’s Office. 

“Apprenticeships play a crucial role in our efforts to develop a workforce that is prepared to meet the demands of the future,” Parson said in a statement. “We are proud to be leading the nation in apprenticeships, and we will continue working to increase apprenticeship opportunities, strengthen our workforce, and give Missourians the skills and on-the-job training they need to be successful.” 

Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan said the new office will enable the department to have a “strong foundation from which to continue our efforts to increase apprenticeships.” 

“Apprenticeships are a proven way to help Missourians skill-up and meet our workforce needs,” Office of Workforce Development Director Mardy Leathers said in a statement. 

The announcement of the new office came as Parson, who is running for a full gubernatorial term in 2020, was in Columbia at the Apprenticeship Missouri Summit. The event coincided with National Apprenticeship Week. 

The Show-Me state garnered 10,000 new registered apprenticeships for the 2019 fiscal year, making Missouri the No. 2 state in the U.S. for new programs. It also came in second for the number of completed apprenticeships (3,614 for 2019), according to the Governor’s Office. 

Missouri has more than 15,000 active apprentices with nearly 500 programs involving more than 3,600 employers, Parson’s office said.