Chamber to manage launch of innovative career readiness initiative

Posted by Maggie Kost on Feb 18, 2015

Springfield, Mo. – The Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce announced today it will contract with Springfield Public Schools and 10 other area school districts to launch a new career readiness initiative that will focus public education resources on confronting the number one challenge facing businesses and employers today: talent development and retention.

The agreement approved by the Chamber’s board of directors authorizes direct Chamber management of the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS). The effort represents an unprecedented collaboration between eleven area public school districts and leading job creators from leading sectors of the region’s economy.

Increasingly, Chamber members representing large and small employers from a wide range of industries and sectors of the economy report they face a significant disconnect between the skills and talent available in today’s workforce and their rapidly changing workforce needs. In response, the Chamber board of directors elevated workforce development as one of four Strategic Areas of Focus for the organization.

“By prioritizing workforce development, our board has made it clear that Chamber members rightly expect the Chamber to lead on this issue,” Chamber President Matt Morrow said. “We are uniquely positioned to coordinate the innovative efforts of today and tomorrow into a cohesive and complementary system of solutions for the workforce challenges that confront our job creators.”

Morrow explained that the Chamber’s natural ability to serve as a link between the business and education community is what led the organization to directly engage in the GO CAPS program.  GO CAPS has grown out of a months-long process led by Springfield Public Schools Superintendent John Jungmann and others. Since the fall, Dr. Jungmann has engaged the region’s business and community leaders in a thorough and transparent review of innovation and best practices; and in a frank conversation about areas in which the public education system succeeds and where it fails in preparing students for career readiness and a lifetime of professional success.

Still currently in the planning phase, a full release with information concerning the GO CAPS program is tentatively planned for April.

GO CAPS FAST FACTS:

  • GO CAPS is designed to immerse high school students (junior and senior) in professional environments through engaging curriculum that is driven by passionate industry leaders and delivered by visionary instructors.
  • GO CAPS focuses on exposing students to careers that exist in our community and allowing students to “test-drive” their future by learning from local professionals about the jobs that exist today and will likely exist in the future.
  • GO CAPS combines hands-on career experiences and classroom learning by partnering students with employers as they work on and receive feedback on real-life projects.
  • GO CAPS is patterned after a successful program that originated in the Blue Valley, KS school district and has been replicated in the Kansas City, MO area by six school districts who are partnering to create these experiential learning opportunities for their students. The model has been replicated by other school districts across the country.
  • In southwest Missouri superintendents from 11 school districts will participate in the GO CAPS pilot program, offered to a limited number of students during the 2015-2016 school year. (Springfield, Logan-Rogersville, Nixa, Willard, Republic, Ozark, Strafford, Reeds Spring, Branson, Bolivar, and Monett).
  • Initial emphasis for course offerings within the pilot project are expected to include the Healthcare/Medicine and Manufacturing sectors of the local economy.

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