The committee recognized that this action item is difficult to measure. We will encourage employers when it is feasible to do so. This action item will not be tracked. However, we will work with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Job Center.

Proposition B was approved by MO voters to gradually raise Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2023. Several major employers have been gradually raising their minimum wage prior to the November 2018 vote.

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber created an Employer and Employee Handbook to provide ways employers can support their employees with additional educational options beyond high school that are appropriate for their business. Some suggestions included flexible hours to take classes, tuition reimbursement, and other options. Information included in the handbook reminds employees to review benefits provided from their employer or ask their supervisor if there are options for additional learning and skill building.

The Chamber held their second tuition assistance education support program in 2018 with over 40 employer representatives. The Chamber currently holds these workshops annually. Many employers had questions about MSU Bachelor of General Studies degree.

Missouri State University, Bachelor of General Services Degree

The Bachelor of General Studies degree (BGS) is an interdisciplinary degree that requires completion of coursework in two or three departments in place of one major or a major with a minor.  No mention of the department areas is included on the transcript or diploma, but a degree plan and graduation check will verify that all the specific requirements have been met.

The BGS degree is by definition appropriate for those who through several years of interdisciplinary and focused study have learned that their interests are not well served within a single academic major. For this reason, the degree is not an available option for freshmen or sophomore students. Admission to the BGS program requires at least 75 hours of college credit including transfer and dual credit hours to enter the BGS Program, which is a four-year degree program.

Both former and current students who wish to pursue this degree must identify a faculty or professional staff advocate who is willing to endorse their entrance into the degree program. In most instances, this advocate should come from one of the departments that will be a part of the degree plan. This advocate may also serve as an advising resource for the student. Additional advising resources will be available through the Associate Provost for Student Development and Public Affairs.

All applicants for the BGS degree program must submit a written essay to the Associate Provost for Student Development and Public Affairs which summarizes the students’ educational background and explains how the degree program would be personally beneficial in ways that a traditional BA or BS degree program would not. A subcommittee of the Council on General Education and Intercollegiate Programs serves as the BGS Admissions Committee to review and act on the application materials.

Change 1000

The Missouri Job Center oversees the Change One Thousand Program – a two-week/36-hour skills academy that teaches participants resume writing, interview skills, proper work etiquette as well as other soft skills, and is taught by instructors from Bryan University. Students learn the skills needed to gain confidence and land a great job. Students discuss a wide-range of topics including personal finance, soft skills, and communication in the workplace, as well as, how to write a proper resume.

On the final day, students participate in mock job interviews to help them piece it all together. “Change One Thousand was born out of numerous conversations with companies about workforce trends they were observing at their businesses when interviewing candidates, said Mary Ann Rojas, Missouri Job Center Director. “This class helps address those needs in creating a more prepared job seeker,” she said.

Ozarks Technical Community College – Veterans Upward Mobility Program

The Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program is designed to assist veterans in all aspects of the college admissions process and their academic success. All services provided by VUB are free for participants, funded by a federal grant through the Department of Education. VUB participants have access to a full staff, knowledgeable and able to provide immediate assistance with admissions, financial aid, academics, and connections to other needed services. We serve veterans meeting eligibility requirements and work closely with other schools to ensure a veteran’s academic success, anywhere they choose to go.

SkillUp Program for SNAP (Food Stamps) Recipients and Dependents

SkillUp Missouri offers free college tuition and support services (if needed) to individuals receiving Food Stamp benefits. If a person is receiving Food Stamp benefits, they may qualify to enroll in free college credit and certificate courses at Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC). College advisors will help the individuals select an educational program of study and Missouri Job Center staff will be available to help secure transportation or childcare assistance. When the course of study is completed, the Missouri Job Center helps to find gainful employment.

In 2018, Ozarks Prison held a job fair at the prison. All eight individuals who attended the job fair received jobs.

In 2018, the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association held a workshop to educate workshop participants on law changes that could help seal records for some felonies.

In January 2018, The Darr Family Foundation awarded a $1.01 million grant to Every Child Promise to increase funding for early childhood. The grant extended and expanded the reach of the Every Child Promise, a coalition of community leaders and groups working together to improve kindergarten readiness in Springfield. The Darr grant, with support from the Musgrave Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, is supporting ongoing programs, including:

  • Scholarship Program— Financial assistance to help struggling families enroll their children, mostly 4-year-olds, in high-quality preschools (increased from 75 to 120)
  • Partnerships — Public and private preschools pooling resources to open classrooms.
  • Screening — Encourages parents to screen young children for any developmental delays or special needs so they can be addressed early.
  • Evaluation Tool — Educate preschools on a framework to measure the quality of programs and improve outcomes for children.
  • Training — Offer help to early childhood education programs and educators.

Springfield Public Schools – Full Funding

During the 2018 fiscal year, Springfield Public Schools (SPS) received full funding to serve an additional 600 4-year-olds who live at or below the poverty line over the next three years. SPS recently converted Campbell Elementary School to a new early childhood center.

The Readiness for Kindergarten report released in May 2017 showed 25 percent of the incoming students did not have the skills necessary to make the most of that critical year and were in danger of lagging behind peers.

At this time, no awareness campaigns to businesses and the public to explain the benefits of early childhood development have taken place.

September 2018 – The Missouri Job Center and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce work with employers on a regular basis to assist them in developing a talent pipeline. OTC is in the process of building a high-tech training center for high-paying technical jobs. The new facility will significantly expand technical and allied health job training.  The training that will be provided through this new center will help provide training to close the “skills gap” that keeps too many families in lower wage paying jobs. Advances technical fields include robotics, 3D printing and mechatronics – a science field that combines electronics and various forms of engineering. OTC contributed $234 million to the regional economy during the 2015-2016 year.

The Springfield Area Chamber completed their 2018 Accountability Report with a mid-year overview of their progress through May 2018. The report has a section on “Developing Our Workforce” with updates in the following areas:
  • Talent attraction
  • Filling the talent pipe
  • Rallying for OTC
  • Award received for talent attraction
  • Connecting with students through GO CAPS (over 250 students have applied for the 2018-2019 session)
  • Teacher externships
August 2018, the state of Missouri established the Talent for Tomorrow initiatice for a statewide effort to develop a talent pipeline to help support job skill development for MO jobs and to meet the state goal of 60% postsecondary attainment by 2020. Springfield is a part of this statewide effort.
  • SRC established a 16-year-old apprenticeship program
  • Prime established a program.
  • City Utilities provides paid internships.
  • OTC has apprenticeship programs and a program for SNAP recipients.

As part of the Zone Blitz initiative, a few entities have started providing low interest loans and helping people get out of payday loans. We are continuing to research this action item:

In 2018, a financial literacy summit was held to learn about the various types of financial literacy programs that are in Springfield. The groups meet every other month to discuss duplications and gaps.

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce

P-20 Council of the Ozarks held an Emerging Workforce roundtable with young professionals and guests from area high schools and colleges, asking them about how they search for jobs and the local market.

The P-20 Council of the Ozarks meets on a regular basis to share initiatives, projects and ideas. They are working together to align GO CAPS, OTC Middle College, Talent for Tomorrow and ideas to align with SPS with existing empowerment clubs and afterschool programs.

MO Job Center

Sep. 2018 – The MO Job Center is the centralized online access program through their MO Workforce Assistant Program. Through their website, information is available about hiring events with job fairs, internships, apprencticeship programs and outreach events.

As part of the Zone 1 Blitz initiative, a second Springfield job center was opened at the Cox Heath North Campus in Dec 2016. They have in-person and online access and provide the same services available at the Sunshine Street location. First year results:

  • 5000+ active job seekers first year of service
  • 100+ people received permanent jobs first year of service
  • Increased resources for residents of Zone1:
    • Job fairs
    • Hiring events
    • Training opportunities

Change 1000

As part of the Zone 1 Blitz initiative, a goal was established to provide 1000 individuals basic skills needed to get good paying jobs by building foundational skills necessary for today’s economy by creating preemployment skills academy. Program includes identifying necessary hard & soft skills development needed. As of September 2018, the 2 week-36 hour employability certification program has produced 105 certifications with 68 individuals receiving jobs.

First cohort results (started Feb 8, 2018):
  • 125 applications
  • 30 admitted for 42 hours of class time (28 graduated Mar 15, 2018 and all are employed)
Program Areas covered:
  • Applicant expectations
  • Employer needs
  • Barriers to employment
  • Habits, attitudes, beliefs, expectations, reactive vs proactive
  • Being professional
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Teamwork
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Understanding paycheck & benefits
  • Budgeting and credit scores,
  • Health & wellness
  • Mentoring
  • Resume writing (online & paper), interview skills, different type interviews

The Missouri Job Center has hosted six One-Stop Job Fair Pop-Ups with two three-day sessions on the southwest corner of Park Central Square. Over the six days, the Pop-Up team served nearly 100 individuals. Job search, resume assistance, and referrals to community partners were the most common services offered to job seekers.