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Sikeston officials come together to aid workforce

Posted Date: 01/10/2018

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Credit: Standard Democrat

Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation will focus on working together to improve workforce capabilities in 2018. Many people interested in partnering with students, unemployed, underemployed and recent military personnel returning to the workforce met Thursday in Sikeston City Council Chambers to review and layout a path forward with Bridges, a workforce mentoring partnership between businesses, educators and career developers.

Sikeston Mayor Steven Burch and Rick Lovall, member of the Sikeston Regional Chamber Workforce Development Committee, opened the discussion by describing Bridges as a program to train, prepare, mentor and empower area youth and adults to help them become successful citizens. Bridges will be coordinated by Lovall through the Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation.

“We are working to better our local workforce through education, government and private business,” said Burch. “I was approached by Dana Self from the Sikeston Junior High School to open lines of communication and services concerning career direction to students in the Sikeston R-6 School District starting as early as 7th grade.”

Sikeston teachers and counselors voiced concern at the meeting and asked for support in directing their students to understand how to move forward in life by choosing a vocation or higher education.

“We need to show these students that their lives can be bettered, and the path to take to accomplish that,” said Heather Self, counselor, Sikeston R-6.

Bridges will utilize ACT Work Ready Communities for development training and testing. ACT Work Ready Communities links workforce development to education. It aligns with the economic development needs of communities, regions and states, and matches individuals to jobs based on skill levels.

Bridges provides a work readiness system, closes the skill gap for workers, offers job profiling, work assessment and a career curriculum to be used for junior high and high school students, as well as college and career seeking adults.

Scott County is now certified ACT Work Ready, due to the work of Lovall and many Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce members. To date, 60 employers support the program and securing certification for area workers. “Our goal is 65 employers, and we will get there,” Lovall said. “We would welcome as many as want to participate.”

“Industry, business and site selectors are looking to communities and counties who are ACT Work Ready certified,” added Lovall. “Certification tells those looking to locate here that our workforce is ready. Those communities are listed and reported in publications and websites such as Site Selection magazine.

The Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development plans to begin training, testing and mentoring students and transitional adults in the spring of 2018. The Missouri Career Center in Sikeston and the Sikeston Career and Technology Center will be vital in essential classes, testing and training according to Lovall. To volunteer to be a mentor to students, or to become a trainer, contact the Sikeston Regional Chamber of Commerce at or call 573-471-2498.