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8 Workforce Development Initiatives at the Cape Chamber

Pre-pandemic, we experienced near historic lows in unemployment. Post-pandemic, we see the nature of work shifting.  One thing we know for sure at the Cape Chamber is how challenging it has been and continues to be for our local employers to find quality candidates to fill open positions.

At the Cape Chamber, we spend 100% of our time on issues of economic development and community betterment. Economic development depends on a talented workforce. So, what is the Chamber doing to influence our local workforce and help our members fill vacancies?

Workforce Development

Here are eight ways the Cape Chamber is actively working on workforce development...


1. connectCAPE Job Shadowing

Did you know less than 20% of Southeast Missouri State University graduates will live and work in the Cape Girardeau area? Furthermore, many students graduate with limited experience in their chosen profession.

connectCAPE helps bridge the gap between local employers and students through four hours of job shadowing. After completing the program, not only do students have a clearer picture of their future career, but they also better understand the job opportunities available in our region.

connectCAPE job shadowing came to life in 2017 in partnership with Southeast Missouri State University. Since then, the program has expanded to include high school participants in an effort to help determine career paths.

2. Show Me Careers Educator Experience

After being postponed in 2020, the Show Me Careers Educator Experience is something we are excited to finally be bringing to the Cape Girardeau community in 2021 through a partnership with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

Show-Me Careers is a five-day career professional development boot camp for educators, counselors and administrators to learn firsthand about relevant career pathways in today’s business and industry settings.

The program provides a unique, hands-on learning experience inside local employers. Through these externship experiences, education professionals gain a more robust understanding of the technical skills, behaviors and mindsets students need to be successful in today’s professional environments.

3. Partnerships with local and state-wide organizations

The Cape Girardeau community is fortunate to have several agencies working to positively affect workforce development in our area. We are proud to partner with many of them including: ABC Today, Cape Girardeau Career & Technology Center, Cape Girardeau Public Schools, Community Partnership of Southeast Missouri, Junior Achievement, Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, Missouri Job Center, Southeast Missouri State University, and many more.

One initiative we’re especially proud of is the Project C.A.P.E event developed in partnership with First Call For Help, Workforce Development Board, Cape County Transit Authority, Community Partnership of Southeast Missouri, Legal Services of Southeast Missouri, and Cape Girardeau Area MAGNET. Project C.A.P.E is an innovative hiring event designed to bring area employers and agency case managers together to identify solutions to local workforce issues.

4. Capable - Essential Skills for Life and Work

From businesses to schools, churches to parents, charities to civic organizations, the past several years have brought forward much discussion about the lack of essential skills, or soft skills, in the world today.

Launched in August 2018, Capable brings individuals together to create a common language and better connect our community with key resources to improve essential skills. An enhanced focus on these critical skills helps individuals in Cape Girardeau County be better prepared for life and work.

5. Job postings

You never know where your next best employee is going to appear. The Cape Chamber is proud to offer free job postings to Chamber members on our website, Upon posting your opening on our website, we will also publicize your listing in our weekly newsletter to the membership of over 1,500 individuals.

6. Leadership Cape

For over 20 years, Leadership Cape has helped to identify, develop, and motivate emerging leaders in our community. This innovative community program led by the Cape Chamber exposes participants to opportunities, realities and challenges of our area through monthly learning sessions and team projects.

Leadership Cape offers first-hand experience through tours of local manufacturing plants, healthcare facilities, area schools, media outlets, and many other businesses. At each session, community leaders and experts participate with the intent of stimulating and provoking new thoughts and ideas.

7. Emerge Young Professionals Summit

Held annually in April, the Emerge YP Summit invites young professionals to activate their curiosity, discover new ways to grow personally and professionally, foster connections, and dig their roots deep into the community to become the leader they are meant to be.

This year’s event is easier than ever to participate in as it’s gone virtual! Learn more and sign up today to receive daily content to your inbox April 5-9.

8. Talent attraction campaign

And finally, we are building a talent attraction campaign for our area with the help of local partners. Currently, we are focusing on three key demographics for this campaign: area high school seniors, Southeast Missouri State University graduates, and individuals with ties to the area. Be on the lookout for development updates in the Monday Morning Memo!


There you have it! Eight major ways the Cape Chamber is working to positively influence workforce development in our area, and, if you can believe it, that’s not even all of them – there’s still Manufacturing Day, Women’s Network, and a few more, but we’ll save those for another day…

If you now find yourself thinking “Hmm, I’d like to learn more about Project C.A.P.E… Or maybe I’d like to host a student for some connectCAPE job shadowing… How do I get added to the employer list for the Show Me Careers Educator Experience?” Great! Reach out to Kim Voelker today – she wears many hats at the Chamber, but I speculate her workforce hat is her favorite.

Thanks for reading and for all you do to help us make our community the best place to live and work!