U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt
toured East Central College’s Business and Industry Center in Union Friday,
The visit was to discuss
apprenticeship and job training programs and the important role they have in
preparing workers to have the necessary skill sets.
Blunt was given a tour of the center by the ECC President
Dr. Jon Bauer. The senator learned about the college’s HVAC and industrial
engineering programs, precision machining and welding lab.
Throughout the tour, Blunt
discussed the importance of programs like these and their accessibility to high
school students and graduates.
“It is important that we do a
better job of matching people with jobs they would like to have,” he said. “And
get them started on that course as early as we can.”
Blunt shared the all-too-common story he hears of students
attending college for a semester or year, realizing that it is not for them and
working a series of jobs that do not lead them in any particular direction.
“There are a lot of people
who lose a decade because they don’t know what they want to do,” he said. “It
is extremely hard to make up that time.”
visit, he met with the college’s administrative team, and instructors and
program coordinators and was introduced to students attending area high schools
who are a part of ECC’s HVAC program.
The high schoolers in the
program attend class at ECC in the morning for about two and half tothree hours
and then return to their traditional high school for the remainder of the day.
Students in the program will
graduate from high school with their diploma, along with an associate degree
and an HVAC certificate.
“These individuals who will
graduate high school with an associate degree and an HVAC certificate all at
the age of 18 have a huge advantage,” said Blunt, who emphasized
how important this exposure is to students.
“Students need to spend a lot
of time thinking about what job they want to do and what would give them
satisfaction,” he said. “See how much of that field they can make a part of
their high school career and try (different) things.”
Blunt is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. He said
through this role he is able to secure resources for programs aimed toward
training and preparing workers for in-demand careers a priority.
That committee funded the
educational development fund grant that allowed buildings like the ECC Business
and Industrial Center to happen, Blunt explained.
According to Blunt,
the budget for that committee is 30 percent higher this year than last. That is
the result of cutting other programs that don’t produce the same results, he
“We have to have people ready
for jobs that bring value to the workplace the first place they go,” Blunt