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NEBA Eyes Workforce Challenges, Upcoming Series

October 2021

NEBA Career Speaker Series Schedule:

Oct. 19: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.; Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Nov. 16: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.; Architecture and Construction,  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Jan. 18: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.; Arts, Audio/Video Technology and Communications, and Information Technology.

Feb. 15: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. Health Science and Human Services.

March 22: 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.; Hospitality and Tourism, and  Marketing.

For more information and registration, visit this link.

Over 30 members of the Northland Education and Business Alliance discussed everything from hiring challenges for local businesses to vocational strategies in schools at their Oct. 5 meeting.

Gathering at Northwest Missouri State University - Kansas City in Gladstone and by Zoom videoconference, the group focused extensively on workforce challenges facing Northland businesses and strategies that schools have to help.

Several business owners noted they are planning tours and events like an upcoming job fair at LMV Automotive. Considerable discussion revolved around a major NEBA goal: improving how educators and business owners can connect in order to partner on programs such as internships, follow-alongs and job-shadowing.

“We’re working to find more ways to offer students these opportunities,” NEBA Co-Chair Amy Washam said. “It helps the students and it helps the businesses.”

Ongoing Improvement

School representatives said districts are constantly searching for better ways to connect students with career information. Christina Courtney, director of assessment for the Park Hill School District, said a program there is beginning to include increasingly younger students. “We’re asking, ‘How can we expose our middle school kids to different career paths they may not have thought of?’” she said. “They can learn about all kinds of jobs they might be interested in.”

Colleen Jones, director of College and Career Readiness for the Liberty schools, said her district is also exploring new options for student involvement. “We continue to try to figure out what our opportunities are for real world learning,” she said. “And we’re including younger kids, too.”

Jones noted a partnership with William Jewell College recently had one group of students interviewing business owners on the Liberty Square to learn about their challenges and strategies. The district also quadrupled its internship opportunities this year.

Seeking More Opportunities

Several pointed to a need for more diverse internship opportunities, including greater variety in both the types of businesses and employee demographics. Brett Kisker, executive director for the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), cited an upcoming internship deadline for his students.

“We’re just like all of you: we need more diversity,” he said. “We need more business partners so we have more role models.”

Co-Chair Courtney Reeves said the NEBA Career Speaker Series will hold its next event Oct. 19. “We’re lining up speakers and  hope to have more attendees,” she said, noting an excellent opening session in September.

NEBA’s 2021-22 Career Speaker Series is advertised to individual Northland students and schools from kindergarten through post-secondary. Their goal is to bring awareness of specific industries that drive the local economy. Speakers provide background about their industry, their company and local career opportunities.

All events will be held live via Zoom and require attendees to register for the link. Sessions are also recorded and made available on NEBA's YouTube Channel. For more information and registration, visit this link. The next session is Oct. 19.

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