The Arkansas Example for Workforce Development Success – SWARK Today
During my time working in the state, I had the opportunity to travel across the state and meet hard-working Arkansans, small business owners, and local leaders. No matter where I was, the issues of concern were the same: border security, runaway inflation, high energy costs and labor shortages. These economic challenges facing the nation are impacting families, businesses and communities and we are all making adjustments.
Small businesses are increasingly faced with staff shortages. According to a recent report by the National Federation of Independent Business, job vacancies are most prevalent in the transportation, construction and manufacturing sectors, where many positions require specialized training and skills.
The good news is that Arkansas has already created a solid foundation to produce a pipeline of skilled workers. It’s happening all over the state. Manufacturers partner with local schools to promote required job skills among area businesses and customize training to meet those needs.
In El Dorado, I toured the Charles A. Hays Manufacturing Center at South Arkansas Community College and saw the educational tools used to provide students with the training they need to succeed in the area. Well-paying jobs are available. Employers are eager to hire. Learning skills to transition smoothly from classroom to career is mutually beneficial.
It’s the model for success in attracting and training the next generation of skilled workers. This is just one example of the collaboration between the business and education communities in Arkansas. Similar partnerships exist throughout the state.
Fort Smith’s Peak Innovation Center connects high school students with training and technology so those who join the workforce after graduation are qualified for these in-demand jobs. It also offers specialized training and courses leading to higher degrees. Additionally, the city recently celebrated the opening of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith Economic Development Center, another place where community members can hone their skills and explore new careers.
In Russellville, the Arkansas/Oklahoma Carpenter Training Center is helping fill the gap in carpentry and machinery careers. The training that will be offered at this new location is intended to promote hands-on experience with the tools and equipment common on modern job sites for successful construction careers.
The statewide Be Pro, Be Proud initiative, a mobile center offering young Arkansans the opportunity to explore their interests and fit with technical careers, has been successful in opening doors to well-paying careers .
I am proud to support workforce development initiatives like these. Rather than focusing on the labor shortage at hand, the Biden administration has remained adamant and continues to pursue policies such as student loan debt forgiveness that will only serve to increase the burden of inflation and will do nothing to prepare the next generation of workers that our communities need right now. .
Fortunately, in Arkansas we have leaders who have already created workforce development opportunities for the skilled workforce. I will continue to push for solutions to drive economic growth and development so that Arkansas families have the tools and skills to succeed and job creators find the employees right here in their backyards. yard to meet their demand and lay the foundation for future growth.