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While they are dealing with labor shortages and schedule disruptions, members of the Northland Education and Business Alliance (NEBA) heard mostly good news on the education front during their Dec. 7 meeting.

Held at the offices of Northwest Missouri State University – Kansas City in Gladstone, the event drew over 30 business owners and educators who work year-round to improve the area’s workforce education opportunities. The Dec. 7 session featured updates on individual district efforts and relevant business developments.

Nearly all of the educational programs reported significant increases in student participation. Executive Director Brett Kisker said the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) is wrapping up this year’s first semester with 340 students preparing for internships next semester. 

Leaders for career programs in both Excelsior Springs and Platte City, which serve the entire region, reported growth as well. Brian Noller, director of the Northland Career Center, said that with 249 students, the Platte City-based program has almost doubled in 10 years. Liberty, Park Hill, Platte County and North Kansas City school district representatives all noted solid interest in work-based learning and related programs, such as internships. Metropolitan Community College is also opening a new business and technology campus to replace an older location near Front Street, which was heavily used by many Northland programs.

Businesses noted their activity, too. Worlds of Fun is now planning on its spring hiring efforts for an April 2022, opening. LMV Automotive in Liberty will have a job fair Dec. 18.

Jerry Hickey, owner of Express Employment Professionals, said his organization is nearing completion of a survey to examine causes for labor shortages and worker exodus. 

“There’s a lot of discussion on why people are leaving jobs,” Hickey noted. “We’re asking, ‘Is it what we hear about or is it different for different people?’” He said preliminary results indicated a range of reasons from workplace safety to childcare and supervisor communications.

NEBA co-chair Amy Washam, who serves as Northwest-Kansas City director, shared that a grant will allow the purchase of videoconference equipment so students can Zoom into classes and still have an interactive experience. “We’re hoping this will open new doors and provide opportunities for others,” she said, adding that the equipment will also help expand NEBA meetings.

Brandey Chandler, community workforce specialist with the Mid-Continent Public Library, said that system continues to expand its Square One business programming and services for people looking for work.

“We tend to be a front door for a lot of job seekers,” Chandler said. “We’re currently putting together information to better help them know where to go in the metro area.”

The next NEBA meeting will be in February. On Jan. 18, the group will host their next Career Speaker Series focusing on arts, audio/video technology, communications and information technology. 

For more information on these and other NEBA events, visit the organization’s website, nebaworkskc.org.

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