The Northland Education and Business Alliance (NEBA) learned details on one of the largest workforce and career programs in the region, the Excelsior Springs Job Corps Center.
Cynthia Koudou, Job Corps lead counselor, told the dramatic but often overlooked story of how the program helps hundreds of young people learn job skills and start careers each year. Koudou made it clear she was speaking from personal experience.
“I was a Job Corps student myself,” the Georgia native explained. “When I left home, I cried halfway there on the bus because I was so scared. But I had a good counselor, and the program was wonderful. It wasn’t easy, but it really works.”
Koudou has since earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is working on her master’s degree. Others enter the military, start apprenticeships or find employment in their area of expertise. Approximately 430 students graduate from the Northland center every two years.
Those successes are no accident. Koudou said the two-year program is open to interested young people ages 16-24, but it isn’t easy. Part of the initial career preparation involves everything from drug testing to creating a career development plan. Three more training and practice levels must be completed to advance. Even after graduation, counselors follow each student’s progress. If more work is needed, it’s available.
Adam Jelenic, HR Programs coordinator with LMV Automotive Systems in Liberty, said he recently spoke to welding students at the Excelsior Springs location and came away impressed. “The students had really good, career-related questions,” he recalled. “They want to work.”
NEBA members asked how businesses should contact Jobs Corps about finding interns, hiring graduates or related issues. Koudou answered that program counselors are located throughout the state to help students find jobs. Additional information is also available at the Excelsior Springs work center, (816) 630-5501 or at excelsiorsprings.jobcorps.gov.
Local Schools and Businesses
NEBA members also heard updates on area education and business developments. Several Northland school districts shared upcoming internship programs, mock job interviews and other career related efforts. Nearly all of these could use business help such as volunteers for the mock interviews.
Founded by the EDC in 2006, NEBA is a network of education and business organizations working in partnership with the region’s economic development professionals to bring awareness of quality education in the Northland to prospective businesses and corporations. NEBA also strives to inform local students, educators and career changers about career opportunities in the area.
NEBA Co-Chairs are Tatia Shelton and Courtney Reyes. Shelton is the Workforce and Economic Development Workforce Manager – Apprenticeships with Metropolitan Community College, and Reyes is the Government Affairs and Workforce Development Director for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.
For more information on NEBA, visit nebaworkskc.org.