(Springfield, Mo.--01/08/18) The City of Springfield's Department of Workforce Development is promoting a new program to accelerate the workforce.

Ensuring the City of Springfield has enough resources to attract and retain workers is among the issues Mary Ann Rojas, Director of Workforce Development for the City of Springfield, says needs attention.

"There’s such a need and demand for qualified workers."

That’s why the Change One Thousand Skills Academy initiative came to fruition.

"Focus on those populations that are of course most vulnerable and provide them with the skills that they need to access good jobs."

Community leaders say the academy is designed to connect low income job seekers with high demand sectors of employment for people like Robert Cook who is unemployed and is currently job seeking.

"They’re like fish in a barrel. If you don’t have a good broad or good bait you’re not grab one and you’ve got to be early. It’s very competitive," explains Cook.

The academy will provide free training and job placement assistance.

"It sounds very encouraging for someone looking really hard like myself."

The effort comes as a number of reports point to struggling manufacturing, construction, and health care competitiveness, which Rojas says stems in part from an insufficient number of skilled workers to meet the workforce demands.

"They may not be ready but there is an available workforce out there," adds Rojas.

The duration of the academy will be five weeks, with 8 hours of class time each week. Rojas adds the academy graduates will be matched with jobs paying $10-$17 per hour.

"We are going to focus on providing the skills, giving the credentials to a 1,000 individuals over the next three years to help solve this skills gap issue and to give employers qualified talent that they need."

Click Here: for more information about Change One Thousand Skills Academy.