COLUMBIA — Columbia and Boone County need to develop new and better strategies for making sure residents have access to the kinds of education that can help them land jobs in the area, Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said.
During a joint meeting Wednesday of the City Council, the Boone County Commission and the Columbia School Board, Wade shared the concerns of an "ad hoc group of people" about the lack of adult education and job training in the area.
Wade pressed for more adult technical education. He said Boone County is limited in its ability to compete for businesses or provide for the future success of established businesses.
"Columbia has no tradition of workforce development," Wade said.
He said a system needs to be in place that allows close collaboration between employers, training programs and local educational institutions such as Moberly Area Community College, Columbia College, Linn State Technical College and MU.
As an example, Wade said the skills people need to work for a company such as 3M in north Columbia or at the various industries in Centralia should be taught locally. The ultimate goal is to improve Columbia's ability to compete with other technology- and industry-heavy communities.
"Our competition is not Lee's Summit or St. Joe and St. Charles and so forth," Wade said. "Our competition is the research triangle. It's Lafayette, Indiana, it’s Lincoln, Nebraska, it’s San Diego, California, it’s Austin, Texas. … As a community, we may have a few successes, but we will lose that competition if we continue to have a huge void.”