SWMO Career Pathways Coalition looks into meeting area employment and education needs

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It’s a new coalition of 41 Southwest Missouri schools, and they’re all focused on improving options for students.

“Our industries and businesses should be really excited about this,” explained Carthage Chamber President Mark Elliff.

Elliff sees the potential for a big impact in finetuning local education.

“We’ve been talking about how the best way to do the workforce is to build your own workforce – it takes awhile to do it but ultimately, down the road, we’re going to have it,” Elliff added.

He’s part of an effort to make sure Southwest Missouri education is meeting the needs of Southwest Missouri businesses. Organizers of a new education coalition want to start working with students much earlier (think grade school) to understand their options after graduation.

“They don’t have much of a career awareness — they probably don’t even understand some of their own skills and gifts,” said education consultant Hans Meeder. “So putting those pieces together of who am I and what’s out there.”

The group outlined a number of goals to help students find the right fit. And, that includes a program to give teachers more experience with the potential jobs for students.

“It’s designed for school districts to use to get their teachers into industries so they can really learn about the opportunities there and be the on the grounds advisor for students in the classroom,” said Crowder Associate VP Dr. Phillip Witt.

The Southwest Missouri Career Pathways Coalition will cover a nine-county area.

That includes technical centers in Joplin, Carthage, and Neosho as well as those in Lamar, Nevada and Monett.

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