Governor Lauds Northland Efforts, Outlines More Statewide
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson addressed the March 2 meeting of the Northland Business and Education Alliance with insight on statewide workforce development and praise for Northland efforts.
“One thing I know about the Northland is that you are very serious about the workforce of tomorrow, and you’re ready to work very hard at that,” he told members of the Northland Education and Business Alliance during a monthly meeting held at the KC Tech Academy in Pleasant Valley on March 2.
Gov. Parson said workforce development is critical for a wide range of priorities, including keeping young people in Missouri by growing quality employment opportunities.
“You have a huge opportunity here in the Northland,” he said. “Kansas City has so much going on and you’re really on top of it here. Every time I talk to companies, they want to know what the local community has invested.” He said the Northland is answering that question with a full range of solutions: NEBA, Northland CAPS, the Tech Academy, the Northland Career Center, the Metropolitan Community College and the Excelsior Springs Area Career Center.
The governor termed workforce development as essential for success in a wide range of areas. His administration has worked to focus on priorities, which include emphasis on everything from early childhood education to modernized high school programs and the Fastrack program for adults seeking new retraining and education. “That’s how people prepare for the workforce of tomorrow,” he said.
Gov. Parson, who has supported previous NEBA events, took time for multiple questions from audience members at the meeting and those attending via Zoom videoconferencing. In his responses, Parson cited investment in a cutting-edge high school program in Troy, Mo. and efforts to improve internet connections in rural areas.
Early childhood education may seem a surprising factor for workforce development and higher education, but Parson noted a comprehensive effort is needed for overall success. “If you really want to change society as a whole, from health care to criminal justice, then you get into early childhood,” he said. “But we can’t continue to do what we’re doing that hasn’t worked. Otherwise we’re fighting the same old battles.”
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The meeting also included a presentation by Dr. Chad Sutton, North Kansas City Schools, who also noted the importance of updating education to meet the needs of today and the future. He cited what some observers call today’s, “fourth industrial revolution” and how young people must be prepared for it.
“Education is still in the second and third revolutions,” he said. “High school graduates don’t have the skills to be successful. We can’t continue to do the things we’ve done for years and expect our outcomes to be different.”
Dr. Sutton said the NKC district has conducted tours of innovative programs for district board members, administrators, educators, parents and students. “It’s not as much about what kids know,” he said. “It’s about their abilities to collaborate, to communicate and to learn more.”
NEBA Co-Chair Brian Noller ended the meeting by congratulating members for their successes over the past year. “Despite COVID and other challenges, we have held multiple events to help thousands of students, educators and businesspeople,” he said. “Your work is what has made those successes.“
NEBA’s next meeting will be April 6.