County-wide plan for workforce development in discussion

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COLUMBIA - Leaders from several organizations from around Boone County gathered Friday to talk about various county-wide goals.

The joint meeting gathered representatives from the City of Columbia, County of Boone, Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Public Schools and University of Missouri. 

One main discussion involving all the groups focused on a new workforce development plan.

Interm city manager, John Glascock began the meeting asking each department what their goals were. 

"My dream is that we work together and this is a perfect example of that," CPS superintendent, Peter Stiepleman, said.

The workforce development plan involves forming an action committee. The committee will then lay out a process and proposal to evaluate what is needed to support school, city and county needs.

The workforce development plan is also a way the groups believe will help attack the crime issue seen in Columbia lately.

Matt McCormick, Chamber of Commerce President, said jobs are a way to keep people productive. 

"How do we continue to move forward so people can come into an entry level job and now how do I continue moving up the food chain?" he said. 

The idea is to give options for kids and is already in the works at CPS. The district talked about wanting to work with construction companies to implement a course, and to use master trainers in the trade to work with seniors. This will target kids who are unsure about their graduation plan or don't have one.

Programs like these would also work with community colleges for early nursing and medical assistant training for kids to enter the workforce immediately. 

"We would like to locate and cite a trailer on our school grounds, that includes a curriculum, staff and trainers, and 10 hours of OSHA training," said Stiepleman. "When kids cross the stage at the end of graduation they have an opportunity to go  work if that is what they want to do."

Another goal discussed involved a "high school and beyond" program with the police department. The idea is to begin with an internship program with local law enforcement, then move and complete a forensics class at Battle High School. After that, participants can study criminal justice at Columbia College and go into academy; from there, they can pursue a career in that law enforcement. 

"It's not just the schools stepping out and saying this is our plan, but rather saying let's do this work together," said Stiepleman. 

The Chamber of Commerce will continue working on a plan addressing the county's needs and will update at their meeting next month.