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A new perspective on the emerging workforce

Posted by Chamber Communications on May 03, 2019

As employers try to attract, develop and retain new employees to the Springfield region, one of the keys to success will be figuring out how to engage students while they’re still in school.

That was the focus of the first program in the Chamber’s 2019 Workforce Event Series, “Perspectives of the Emerging Workforce,” on May 2. HR representatives and college students from Missouri State University and Ozarks Technical Community College offered their take on the unique perspective college students bring to the job search process.

Students discussed how they find information about jobs and internships, as well as what factors they consider when looking at a potential employer. They all touted the value of job fairs, as well as internships – programs that allow students to build relationships with future employers.

“Offering internships, paid or unpaid, are a great gateway to connect with companies,” said Zach Cull, a graduating senior studying political science and journalism at MSU. “It’s a great way to meet potential future employers – you learn the culture of the company while you’re there.”

They also discussed the decision of whether or not to stay in Springfield after graduation – and what goes into making that decision.

“You can make a big impact in the community here,” said Justin Andrus-Bearden, a student in the MSU/Missouri University of Science & Technology joint engineering program. “I feel like it’s that perfect size. There are lots of nonprofits here, lots of chances to volunteer … and the workplace environment is essential – just beyond the pay.”

As for employers, they took a more holistic approach, talking about the trends they see when trying to engage those newly entering the workforce and how to create meaningful experiences for them. For Scot Scobee, director of human resources at SRC, the process of connecting with students means connecting with more than just the student themselves.

“We’d been engaged with the students, the teachers, the counselors, and then we realized the missing piece: the parents,” he said. “So we host tours of our facilities where we invite all those stakeholders plus the parents. It all comes down to who has a connection. Our strategy is to connect with individuals.”

For Julie Cummings, Chief Human Resources Officer at accounting firm BKD, LLP, it’s all about winning the race for talent – and that means making sure they’re connecting with students as early in their college career as possible.

“We’re leveraging the relationship with the student to figure out how to keep getting great results while also changing our culture,” she said. “What employee value proposition do we offer – the work environment, our benefits, our policy, our dress code – while still maintaining our professionalism. We go on campus and say to students, ‘We need you to help us shape the future.’”

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