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As the GO CAPS program prepares for the 2019-2020 school year – its fifth year of providing students and teachers with unparalleled access to experiences in the modern workplace – the program is trying to find new ways to measure its success so far, and to see where it can grow.
GO CAPS – the Greater Ozarks Centers for Advanced Professional Studies – has 300 students enrolled for the current school year, encompassing 23 school districts from around the region. They focus on one of five broad yet distinct fields of study: Medicine & Health Care, Engineering & Manufacturing, Business & Entrepreneurship, IT & Software Solutions, or Teacher Education.
Those strands of study are not chosen at random – they’re a direct response to local employers’ most urgent areas of need. That responsiveness to business needs is by design; each field of study, or strand, is led by an advisory group teams made up of both educators and business partners who help shape its curriculum and experiences.
Both businesses and educators have embraced the program as it has grown since its inception. “Teachers who have participated in the GO CAPS Externship program really understand the program now, and they’re on board with helping us to share the importance of these experiences with both their students and their administrators,” said Chamber GO CAPS Coordinator Karen Kunkel.
Businesses are already seeing some of the return on their investment in the program, including contacts with eager members of the future workforce and even some student projects that have been put right to use in their own organizations. Several have even hired participating students on a full- or part-time basis.
But now GO CAPS is in the beginning phases of better studying how the program offers ROI for the participating students, including how they put the experience to use - in this region or elsewhere - as they continue their education or enter their professional career.
“We’re in the initial stage of creating an alumni tracking system, to be able to see where those GO CAPS students go after they finish the program,” Kunkel said. “We want to be able to show how those students are taking those experiences and turning them into rewarding career opportunities.”
The program looks to continue its growth in the upcoming school year – and applications are now being accepted. If you know of a student who will be a junior or senior in 2019-2020 and would be a good fit for the GO CAPS program, send them to the GO CAPS website to learn more about the program and to complete fill out an application today.