A study by the Manufacturing Institute showed that nationally 80% of manufacturers report a shortage of qualified applicants for skilled production positions.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission conducted more than 1,800 face-to-face meetings with local Arkansas companies to evaluate the extent of the skilled worker shortage in Arkansas. We found approximately 10,000 unfilled jobs, of which 26.2 percent require no formal education and 52.5 percent require a high school diploma or GED.
To combat this problem, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission collaborated with 10 companies in western Arkansas to launch a pilot skills gap workforce program called Future Fit. These companies played a significant role in developing and launching Future Fit: Bekaert, Trane, Gerber, International Paper, HSM Solutions, MAHLE, Gerdau, Glatfelter, Rockline Industries, and Rheem.
The Future Fit program will help prepare individuals for well-paying jobs with participating companies throughout Arkansas. Participants of Future Fit will complete a training program that will prepare them for entry-level employment with these companies.
The first course will take approximately 96 hours of combined hands-on and online training for the basic skills needed to be successful in a manufacturing position. Two additional courses are under development.
Future Fit students participate in a hands-on training at the SAU-Tech campus.
Ten community colleges across Arkansas are currently able to deliver Future Fit training. As we monitor the Future Fit pilot program, AEDC plans to expand it to the entire state with industry-specific training for each region. We are excited to collaborate with companies across Arkansas to expand the program statewide.
To qualify for Future Fit, applicants must have:
These are the minimum qualifications to enroll in the Future Fit program.
Future Fit is designed to accommodate a diverse group of people:
There will be no enrollment cost to qualified students during the initial pilot program.
Future Fit provides instruction in skills that employees need to know to be successful in the workforce. These skill sets will be delivered using a combination of classroom, online, and hands-on lab training. The Future Fit curriculum is 96 hours and can be customized based on the needs of a given company.
Check out our blog post, "Is Future Fit the right fit for you?" to learn more about the program and how you could benefit from our skills gap workforce program.