Collaboration Could Bring Jobs to Metro

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LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- A new collaboration could create the workforce of the future, while securing tech jobs in the metro and helping recession proof the country.  These are all realities if a school district, a university and a green energy company can work together to create Missouri Innovation Campus.

The Lee's Summit School District, the University of Central Missouri and Exergonix are working together to bridge the gap in state educational and workforce needs. While still in the early stages of the plans, Elaine Metcalf with Summit Technology Academy said the group will collaborate on Missouri Innovation Campus, a place where high school students can learn the ins and outs of STEM - or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's exciting that our students would have an opportunity to stay local, go to school at University of Central Missouri, get a bachelor's degree and then stay in our community as an employed adult," said Metcalf.

The plan is for students to graduate from UCM debt-free, in two years so they can quickly meet the metro's demand for STEM savvy professionals.

Chuck Ambrose, the president of the University of Central Missouri jumped on board the project as soon as he heard about it.

"It's clear that partnerships drive innovation and education," he said.

Ambrose said the goal of the partnership is to help students enrolled reduce the cost of a college education, graduate with a four-year degree in less time, apply the skills their learn to their careers and have the opportunity to graduate debt free.

"The opportunity of re-tooling, re-training, and repositioning skills gives a sense that perhaps this is more than a recovery; this is really a glimpse of where our future will be in a really productive way," said Ambrose.

Metcalf said the project will be challenging, yet rewarding

"We're trying to prepare students for career that don't even really exist," said Metcalf. "It's kind of a moving target. If we thought we could continue to prepare them for the careers of yesterday or even today, we would be remise in education. We have to look towards the future to where those jobs are and make our curriculum and our training appropriate for what's ahead."

Lee's Summit schools, UCM and Exergonix are working together to create a Phase I program for Lee's Summit juniors and seniors. That program should be off the ground by this upcoming fall.

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