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 place qualified individuals directly into 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 120 hours of combined hands-on and on-line training for the basic skills needed to be successful in a manufacturing position. Two additional courses are under development.
We are currently partnering with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith for the pilot program. 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.
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. Applicants must have a High School Diploma or a GED and have earned a Bronze level ACT National Career Readiness Certificate as a minimum qualification to enroll.