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When high school students reach their fourth year, they often look to expand their horizons ... see what new possibilities the future might offer and explore their options.
For the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies (GO CAPS), it’s no different. The 2018-2019 school year marks the fourth for GO CAPS, and it, too, is looking to spread its wings.
The Chamber, in cooperation with the Springfield R-XII School District and several other area districts, created the GO CAPS program several years ago. It was a part of the Chamber’s concerted efforts to respond to employers’ No. 1 stated obstacle to growth: access to a trained, skilled and enthusiastic workforce.
GO CAPS is meant to address that need. It’s a full-year, half-day learning experience for high school juniors and seniors, where they get the chance to see first-hand some of their future career options while embedded in partner businesses.
Total enrollment for GO CAPS—which includes Springfield, Branson, Monett, West Plains and the Lake Region—is up to 300 this year, a new high-water mark for the program. Growth is especially robust in the affiliate programs; enrollment in Monett, West Plains and the Lake Region is up 42% from 2017.
“I think the growth of our affiliates reflects the expanding reach of the GO CAPS program,” said GO CAPS Coordinator Karen Kunkel. “GO CAPS truly is meant to encompass the Greater Ozarks region, as we know our regional workforce comes from a large area beyond just Springfield.”
Students who join the program pick a strand, or area of focus, for the year. The strands serve as umbrellas, encompassing a wide variety of fields and career options. There are four existing strands from previous years – Medicine and Health Care, Business and Entrepreneurship, IT and Software Solutions, and Engineering and Manufacturing.
Medicine has historically been the most popular, and this year is no exception, with more than half of students enrolled in that area. But like the students themselves, GO CAPS is expanding its own horizons as well, adding a new strand for this year: Teacher Education.
“We added teacher education because these will be the teachers we’re relying on to train the future workforce, and there is definitely a teacher shortage in our area,” Kunkel said, noting that the strand also covers options such as industry training, workplace skills and culture issues. “Students who go through this program will definitely have a more positive perspective about the options that are available to them.”
Regardless of which strand a GO CAPS student has chosen, there are benefits beyond just exposure to their chosen field of study. There are the connections students will have made with area businesses and business leaders, and there are the business ideas the students have shared with the participating businesses – some of which have immediate return on investment.
Believe it or not, it’s not too early to sign up a student you know for the 2019-2020 school year. Applications are already open for next year’s GO CAPS program – visit the GO CAPS website to learn more about what options are available!