The Chamber supports numerous efforts to develop talent by focusing on youth at the middle and high school level, exposing students to career paths for in-demand fields and creating a greater awareness of the skills and education needed to obtain desired positions.
GO CAPS is a career exploration program for area high school juniors and seniors. Launched in 2015 by Springfield Public Schools (SPS) and the Chamber, this program partners with businesses in the Ozarks to provide high school students with an educational opportunity driven by real-world, career-oriented experiences. Serving as the fiscal agent, SPS sends students – along with several surrounding districts – to classrooms situated within business environments. Chamber staff work to connect those students with the local business community in in-demand fields such as Business & Entrepreneurship, Engineering & Manufacturing, and Medicine & Health Care.
In conjunction with GO CAPS, the Chamber hosts annual summer Teacher Externships for educators who work with 6-12th grade students. Over the course of four days, staff connect educators with various business partners so they can experience first-hand in-demand skills, industries, and professional fields outside the school environment. Teachers take the knowledge and experiences they gained from the externship back to their classrooms to better prepare students for the workforce.
Middle School and Industry Programs
The Chamber is a partner in the 7th & 8th Graders Go To Work program, a collaborative effort with the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education and Missouri State University’s Agency for Teaching, Leading & Learning. Middle school students are exposed to businesses and career opportunities through tours and hands-on experiences at an early age to encourage excitement for paths they may never have considered. This allows them to plan their selection of high school courses to align with their career interests more closely.
The Chamber is also supportive of school career fairs and events designed to expose students to a variety of careers and businesses. These events include the construction industry’s Build My Future and Missouri Association of Manufacturers’ iCreate event. These showcases highlight the skills and training needed for a variety of roles across the construction and manufacturing spectrum for students considering future career paths.