High school graduation season is quickly approaching and seniors across Clark County are making impactful decisions about their futures. The Magnify initiative, launched in 2020, is aiming to make those life decisions easier and more meaningful for local high school students.
The Magnify initiative encourages students to “magnify” their talent and look closely at different careers, says Kendra Burnside, talent and education coordinator for the Community Improvement Corporation, part of the economic development division of the Chamber of Greater Springfield
“Magnify was designed to develop the workforce and talent pipeline in our community,” Burnside says. “We want to connect employers and schools. Employers need a strong and talented workforce, but they’re having trouble finding those people. We want to bridge the gap with the schools because that’s where the workforce comes from. Anything that creates career-focused opportunities for students falls into this program.”
The Magnify initiative is aimed at creating a talent pipeline and retaining that talent in Clark County. The program is based on discover, dream and develop: discover – aptitude and strengths; develop – skills; and dream – about the future and how to use those skills in your work and community.
While the initial plan was for Burnside to personally be visiting local high schools, that plan was transitioned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With local business partners on-board, Magnify transitioned to virtual meetings and recording videos to get the message to students.
“Videos are a way to get our message out there and expose students to careers within different industries,” Burnside says. “Videos focus on specific careers within 16 industries. We (partner with) employers in the area and interview someone local who holds a job in that industry to talk about what a career in that industry looks like.”
The Magnify program purchased one TV for each high school in the county and hopes to have them installed in high-traffic areas before the start of the next school year. The TVs will act as permanent billboards and feature the videos with industry partners, career information and more.
“There is a lot of opportunity in Springfield in every industry,” Burnside says. “We want people to see that and hear that and to learn some local names of companies that are out there.”
Featured industries include:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Computers and technology
- Teaching and education
- Agriculture and natural resources
- Government and public administration
- Human services
- Distribution and logistics
- Health science
- Sales and marketing
- Arts and media
- Architecture and construction
- Law and public safety
- Hospitality and tourism
Burnside says many of the occupations Magnify focuses on require less than a 4-year degree but highlight different levels of education from on-the-job-training to an associate degree.
A website is also being developed to highlight local career opportunities.
In addition, Magnify will launch an internship program aimed at recruiting students, preparing them with resumes, mock interviews, soft skills training and finally matching them with industry partners for a summer internship by 2022.
“(Once the students are prepared) employers will interview and make the final decision,” Burnside says. “We hope to expose students early and use their YouScience results to see what they are good at and interested in. Internships are a good way to spark interest if you have high aptitude but low interest; you might find a fit you didn’t know you had.”
YouScience is a career aptitude test also offered through Magnify.
“Employers have been super excited. They need people. They need qualified people,” Burnside says. “They are looking for ways to get into the schools. It’s been a relief for businesses to have some help. I’ve met with most high school counselors in the county, and all have been excited and receptive to Magnify program.”
Dale Briggs, president of Imperial Express, a Springfield based trucking company that operates more than 35 trucks in a 32-state region in the United States, says the Magnify program is absolutely essential to building our community’s future workforce.
“The Magnify program will be the primary connection between businesses, schools and students. Businesses must start thinking outside of the box and start operating well beyond their traditional methods of hiring and training,” he says. “A large portion of our future workers are coming out of high schools, in many cases with little to no exposure to the business community. As businesses, we must play a much larger role in connecting with students and introducing them to potential job opportunities through traditional and non-traditional internships and work experience programs.”
Briggs says Imperial Express’s customer base is primarily in Springfield and Clark County, and the company currently employs 49 people in industry job segments including: Class A CDL drivers, diesel mechanics, heavy duty 53ft mobile trailer mechanics, dispatchers, management and office administrative staff.
Clark County will be setting a new benchmark for other communities to work toward, Briggs says.
“We desperately need businesses to self-engage in this ground-breaking initiative,” he says. “I strongly believe if a business does not allocate resources and energy to participating in the Magnify program, those businesses will find themselves missing out on a great opportunity to connect with students and essentially, their future employees.”
Imperial Express has a long history of working with high school students and creating internship opportunities. Briggs himself plays an active role on local Chamber committees, which focus on building business and student connections.
He says he is excited about Imperial Express participating in this ground-breaking program.
“Magnify is connecting with all the schools in our community,” Briggs says. “We need businesses to engage and be part of the solution. An internship is not a summer job or an after school part-time job, it is the pathway to a career – developing our future workers and retaining our most valuable assets within our community.”
Burnside will host a webinar from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. April 14 to discuss apprenticeships. To register click here
“The tone for a while was ‘college is the way to go.’ It was ‘college or bust,’ and that is not the case,” Burnside says. “A lot of skilled trade jobs are going unfilled. You don’t necessarily have to go to college. There is a lot of opportunity for really good paying jobs, livable wage careers that people can get without a 4-year degree.”