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Opening doors for educators to learn about in-demand careers

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The Missouri Chamber Foundation’s Workforce203o Report revealed that educators usually have little exposure to career opportunities outside of those requiring a four-year degree. This can leave significant awareness gaps for students in areas like advanced manufacturing and technical jobs.

Rep. Brenda Shields wants to help give Missouri teachers that valuable experience to share in their classrooms by providing incentives for them to participate in externships.

“After a successful career in manufacturing, I was one of Missouri’s first alternative certified teachers,” said Shields. “I quickly learned I had an advantage over many other teachers because I had actual experience outside of education. I was more equipped to teach my students what they really need to know and give them the career advice they needed.”

Similar to a student internship, teacher externships provide opportunities for educators to learn and work inside companies. But in order to advance on the salary schedule, Missouri teachers are currently required to spend their summers taking graduate education classes.

Shield’s House Bill 462 would give educators the option to spend those hours in an externship with a local company for equivalent credit on the schedule.

The House passed the bill early in April, and the bill proceeded to a Senate committee hearing on April 30.

The Missouri Chamber testified in support of HB 462 and its potential to grow programs like Show-Me Careers, one of its many workforce development efforts to expand educator and student career awareness. The program offers a week-long educator experience where teachers go inside a variety of industries that provide high-skill, high-paying careers. After completing the program, they meet throughout the year for follow-up resources and support.

“We’ve gotten rave reviews from Show-Me Careers and we have even helped teachers develop lesson plans from this program to really integrate what they’re learning from those businesses into the classroom,” said Kara Corches, Missouri Chamber director of legislative affairs. “We’re really excited about the prospect of this bill expanding this program, and forming a partnership in which the business community and education community are working hand in hand to better prepare our future workforce.”

The Missouri Chamber committed to hosting externship listings on its website to help match educators with companies, if the bill becomes law.

“We believe that as we’re having this statewide conversation about addressing the skills gap, this bill is another tool in our toolbox to help us do just that,” said Corches.

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