On Aug. 28, 2019, the Missouri Department of Higher Education, the Division of Workforce Development, and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center transformed to become one department.


The transformation is a result of Executive Order 19-03, signed Jan. 17, 2019, by Governor Mike Parson to realign Missouri’s workforce development systems through a major restructuring of state government.


In addition to the restructuring, the department name changed as a result of Executive Order 19-15, signed August 28, 2019, by Governor Mike Parson to better reflect the full scope of the new department.


Meet the new Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development



Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development 



The Vision: Every Missourian empowered with the skills and education needed for success.



A case for change

Missouri lags the rest of the country across education and workforce outcomes, ranking number 32 in state educational attainment and in state median wages, and number 38 in state economic growth.


Missouri employers cite their biggest barrier to increasing employment is a shortage of skilled workers. Job and wage growth is accelerated in urban areas, often leaving poorer and less-educated rural communities behind. Technology and automation will continue to displace vulnerable populations. The number of students who start ninth grade, graduate from high school, and earn a college degree in Missouri is declining.


The opportunity

Realigning postsecondary education with the public workforce system will give Missourians the full breadth of options available to fit their interests, resources, and abilities. The department has the opportunity to bring hope to people who need to skill up, get an education, and find meaningful employment.




In May 2018, the Missouri Department of Economic Development and the Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Hawthorn Foundation launched Talent for Tomorrow, an initiative that will fundamentally reset Missouri’s approach to meeting the state’s workforce needs. The Talent for Tomorrow initiative:

  • Produced an assessment of how the state’s current workforce aligns with employer needs;

  • Looked at different economic scenarios to help build a workforce system that can adapt as the economy evolves; and

  • Aligned postsecondary education with the public workforce system and the needs of the private sector.


A set of recommendations outlined during Governor Mike Parson’s State of the State Address formed a comprehensive workforce strategy for the state. One major component of this strategy is moving the Division of Workforce Development and MERIC under the Department of Higher Education, as well as reorganizing other divisions of the Department of Economic Development.



  • January 17, 2019 - Executive Order 19-03 issued by Gov. Mike Parson

  • March 18, 2019 - Deadline for General Assembly to take action

  • July 1, 2019 - Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Memorandum of Understanding for seamless transfer

  • August 28, 2019 - Executive Order legally takes effect and department name changed through signing of Executive Order 19-15