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Workforce Development/Missouri Job Center News Releases

Posted on: January 5, 2018

New job-training program to address skills gap in local workforce


Change-100-Logo-1-702x336A good job is a great start.

That’s the tagline of Change One Thousand Skills Academy, a new job-training program created by the City of Springfield Department of Workforce Development in partnership with the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board.

Director Mary Ann Rojas said the program, set to begin in February, will create pre-employment training opportunities for 1,000 individuals over the course of the next three years in the manufacturing, construction, transportation/logistics, IT and health care industries.

Training will be held at Missouri Job Center locations, partner organizations sites and The Fairbanks. Through existing partnerships and designated case managers, Change One Thousand will be distinctly qualified to address the most common barriers to employment such as childcare, transportation, mental health, substance abuse, disabilities, and criminal background.

Change One Thousand will begin with a pilot project highlighting opportunities in the Partnership Industrial Center East (PIC East) corridor. Training segments will be led by Bryan University and industry experts representing the PIC East employer consortium.

Rojas said the academy is designed to close the skills gap and create career pathways for individuals who meet the characteristics of being skills-deficient as a result of being unemployed or under-employed, living in poverty, or lacking access to resources and good jobs. Priority will be placed on recruiting residents of Springfield’s Zone 1, which has the highest unemployment rate and lowest per capita income of Springfield’s four zones.  

“The desired result is a qualified workforce which supports an improved competitive edge for the industry,” Rojas said.

Starting Monday, those interested in the program can apply online at  or in person at the Missouri Job Center locations on East Sunshine and in the Cox North Medical Tower, and at public libraries. The duration of the academy will be five weeks, with approximately eight hours of class time each week. Class sizes will be kept small – no more than 30 students will be admitted to each of the academy’s tracks at a time.  Academy graduates will be matched with jobs paying $10-17 per hour offered through the same employer partners who helped design the program curriculum.

Rojas said the academy will be funded with an $150,000 initial investment by the local Workforce Investment Board. The fund will be maintained through public-sector, private-sector and general public donations, Rojas said, and disbursed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

Employers that participate in the academy through financial or in-kind contributions will receive the designation of a Change One Thousand Employer Champion, which adds an additional level of recognition and interest from potential employees. Change One Thousand employers will be recognized as champions of industry who invest in personal, professional, and community development and value training, diversity, equal opportunity, and a progressive economic environment. Employer partners will also serve on the academy’s curriculum committee, Rojas added.

Other significant components of the project include the measure of success and the assurance of quality. Performance metrics will measure the following:

  • Number of certifications awarded
  • Number of participating employers
  • Average entry level wages
  • Job Placement rate
  • Average wages paid
  • Occupational breakdown
  • Economic impact
  • Job retention.


For more information, please contact program coordinator Josh Klein at 417-841-3354.

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