Workforce Training in Arkansas

Arkansas’s diverse industrial base provides an ample supply of experienced manufacturing workers. The manufacturing sector accounts for 12.7% of the state’s jobs. Throughout the years, the sector has shifted from agriculture-based to light manufacturing to more sophisticated processes and products such as advanced food packaging, transportation equipment, and primary and fabricated metals.

A workforce that works wonders. As a right-to-work state, Arkansas boasts proud people who step up to any job. We see ourselves not just as a strong workforce but united; dedicated to elevating our communities.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has the ability to assist new and existing industry with the growth of their workforce through training programs. In addition, AEDC provides valuable connections with other state agencies and serves as a liaison to the state’s educational system ensuring that training needs are effectively addressed.

AEDC’s Manufacturing Solutions division works closely with many public and private organizations to bring world-class guidance, training, and resources to Arkansas manufacturers.

Statewide Initiatives and Partnerships

The Business and Industry Training Program (BITP) is a flexible program designed for new and expanding businesses and industries. BITP has three emphases: recruiting workers, pre-employment training and on-the-job training.

The BITP provides financial assistance to recruit the workforce required for new and expanding businesses and industries in Arkansas. The Office of Skills Development (OSD), under the direction of the Arkansas Department of Career Education, offers a pre-employment training program for new and expanding companies, customizing the number of hours and content of the training to fit the specific needs of each company.

Eligible Businesses:

  • Biotechnology Companies
  • Distribution Centers
  • Intermodal Facilities
  • Knowledge-based Companies
  • Manufacturing Operations
  • National & Regional Corporate Headquarters
  • Office Sector Businesses
  • Scientific & Technical Services

The state is transitioning to the National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC) to allow additional visibility of our workforce on a national level. The NCRC allows prospective employees the ability to document the skills that they possess and assists companies with a method (via ACT WorkKeys Job Profiles) of matching potential workforce with existing job openings, thus reducing turnover and increasing profitability.

Benefits of National Career Readiness Certificate to Employers:

  • Reduces turnover, overtime, and waste
  • Increases morale
  • Takes the guesswork out of selection decisions
  • Improves the effectiveness of training dollars
  • Meets Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requirements
  • To learn more about the Arkansas Career Readiness Certificate program, visit dws.arkansas.gov.

The Modern Workplace program was created to bridge the divide between educators and industry representatives.

Educators and industry representatives collaborate to create an education environment that allows our emerging workforce to lead productive lives and satisfy the needs of Arkansas businesses.

Objectives of the program:

  • Connecting educators with local/regional employers to gain familiarity with local products and processes utilized in the workplace.
  • Linking employers with the local/regional school system to foster ongoing relationships with educators.
  • Providing educators with local/regional business contacts they can use to supplement current teaching curriculum.
  • Familiarizing educators with career opportunities in local industry and the skills needed to be successful.

Provides training and consultation, and administers the Governor’s Quality Award Program. Any public or privately held organization of any size located in Arkansas may apply.

The Institute uses the seven categories of the Criteria for Performance Excellence as a guideline for training and application to the Governor’s Quality Award. There are four levels of the application:

  • Challenge
  • Commitment
  • Achievement
  • Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence

Consultants can also assist organizations not applying for an award in performing self-assessments using the Criteria for Performance Excellence. More information can be found at arkansas-quality.org.

Arkansas Tech University – Ozark and Green Bay Packaging, in conjunction with leadership and resources from Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, created a training center specifically targeted at industrial maintenance.

Technical skills related to mechanical, electrical and instrumentation maintenance to advance incumbent employees and skill upgrades for top journeymen. New technology is also addressed and taught here.

More than 40 area companies are taking advantage of this training center. Payoff to each of the companies that train at this center results in extended life of their equipment and proactive precision maintenance, which reduces unexpected downtime and increases production. Courses meet one day a week for five weeks.

As a generation of skilled workers retires, businesses are seeking to replenish their qualified workforce.

South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado and local industry partnered together to leverage resources and talent to create a program that will assist regional businesses in improving their existing employees and developing a pipeline for new employees into their industries.

Existing employees, as well as potential employees from the emerging workforce, can gain valuable skills that address refinery operations, chemical operations and process technology. The curriculum was jointly developed by the community college and the businesses involved.

Existing operators within regional companies, as well as potential employees, integrate knowledge and use of computers, math, physics, and chemistry to learn how to safely and efficiently operate systems equipment. They also gain strong communication skills including writing, listening and orally expressing themselves in a team environment.

Aviation Maintenance Technology – Aviation maintenance is a program that prepares students to take the Federal Aeronautics Administration exam to become a licensed aviation mechanic. Each graduate of the Aviation Maintenance Technology program is prepared to seek FAA certification/license in Airframe and/or Powerplant Technology in this one- or two-year certificate degree or two-year AAS degree program. Offered under FAA accreditation standards, students complete a general curriculum in the first semester, followed by two semesters of Airframe curriculum and two semesters of Powerplant curriculum. Graduates will be able to repair, maintain and service aircraft. This program is offered in five locations in Arkansas:

  • Arkansas Northeastern College (Burdette, Blytheville, Leachville, Paragould)
  • Arkansas State University – Mid-South (West Memphis)
  • University of Arkansas – Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock)
  • Southern Arkansas University Tech (Camden)
  • Southern Arkansas University Tech (Texarkana)

Henderson State University’s Department of Aviation (Arkadelphia) offers a four-year bachelor of science degree specifically in aviation. Utilizing experienced faculty, flight instructors and 15 aircrafts, their goal is to provide students with the training and education necessary to prepare them for a career in the professional aviation industry in the safest environment possible, whether they want to fly for the airlines, manage the airports they serve or manage the fleet they fly. Students have the option of a minor in unmanned aircraft systems-drones to enhance their flight training knowledge.

Be Pro Be Proud is an initiative led by the Associated Industries of Arkansas that is spearheading the movement to bring a new generation of pride, progress, and professionals to Arkansas' skilled workforce.

As the current skilled workforce is at or near retirement age, Be Pro Be Proud hopes to change how Arkansans think about these job opportunities.

Be Pro Be Proud offers opportunities for job seekers, skilled professionals, employers, and teachers to be involved through training, workshops and more.

Learn more about Be Pro Be Proud

The Future Fit program helps to 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.

Steve Sparks

Director, Existing Business Resources

(501) 682-1350