The Northland Education and Business Alliance (NEBA) hit the ground running for the 2022-23 year during a work session Aug. 2 at iWerx in Gladstone.
With new Co-chair Tatia Shelton joining Courtney Reyes, the group quickly focused on what has and has not worked in their efforts to improve Northland workforce development. Shelton is the Career Services coordinator at Maple Woods Community College and Reyes is Government Affairs and Workforce Development director for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. They were joined by more than 20 business and education leaders at the meeting or joining by Zoom videoconference.
The group quickly targeted the organization’s successes and areas for improvement. A key focus is how to better inform high school students and their parents about outstanding career options in the region and how to prepare for them, even while still in school.
Ways to Improve
The group focused on several questions about current and potential collaboration between educators and area businesses, how to break down barriers, and more. Members divided into small groups to discuss several questions. The ideas they generated were impressive.
“Small groups really spur conversations and sharing of ideas,” Shelton said. “We received some really good suggestions that can focus our conversations.”
A good example was the need for better communications with students and parents. Suggestions included increased communications of success stories, increased dialogue with area businesses and a speaker’s bureau.
Another idea suggested more involvement by community and political leaders, including school board members and local officials. The group also identified better communications, including reports on successful collaboration with businesses and organizations to help young people become more aware of job opportunities and what they need to pursue them. Other efforts, like more flexible school schedules to allow for better business connections, will also require additional effort.
NEBA members discussed changes of their own as well. One suggestion involved last year’s Career Speaker Series that linked professionals in several critical Northland fields with local students via Zoom videoconferencing. While the program drew good attendance despite COVID restrictions, the sessions’ timing did not always fit well with some classroom schedules. One suggestion would place all sessions on a single day that schools could schedule, similar to earlier career fairs that were very successful.
NEBA leaders will organize the ideas collected Aug. 2 before the group’s next meeting Sept. 6. Members are urged to bring guests, and new members are welcome. For more information, contact NEBA affiliate, the Clay County Economic Development Council, (816) 489-4989.