By Myra Huhmann, TAA State Coordinator, Missouri Department of Economic Development

Recently, a trade affected company in a rural Missouri area closed its doors.  During the following year, a new company reopened the plant using computerized, lean manufacturing practices, which provided the opportunity for training.  The Economic Developer and Workforce Coordinator (WC) worked with the company on the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) On-the-Job Training (OJT) contract.  Due to the magnitude of the project, DOL Region V, was consulted as the project progressed and was very helpful in providing guidance.

The WC used O*Net Codes/Titles to determine the appropriate Specific Vocational Preparation levels, tasks, etc. for each job title. The WC also worked to determine the number of slots needed at the company and the appropriate funding for the OJT contract.

In the beginning stages of this OJT contract, five designated Job Centers and eight Trade Representatives (one lead) were assisting with the project.   The WC or lead Trade Representative visit the employer’s location once or twice a week to assist with transportation/subsistence requests and to answer questions from OJT participants. 

Missouri requires at least three monitoring visits during the course of an OJT. During these monitoring visits, the Trade Representative rates the worker’s performance on OJT activities and verifies the employer’s OJT documentation.

This was a great opportunity to employ and train a significant number of trade-affected workers in a rural area. Some struggles during the process were coordinating the placement of a large group of workers in a relatively short period of time that were working through multiple job centers, having adequate staffing to handle the case load and coordinating the paperwork and approvals timely.  Overall, this project has been a win-win-win for the dislocated workers, the employer, and Missouri!