Be Pro, Be Proud Initiative Created to Train the Workforce of the Future
In 2016, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce created the “Be Pro, Be Proud” initiative to address what has been known as a “skills gap” between Arkansas’ workforce, and the needs of employers. With the large amount of high profile infrastructure and economic development projects throughout the state, there is presently a critical shortage of skilled labor available in many trades.
At this time, Arkansas has approximately 60,000 unfilled positions in skilled technical fields, and this number is expected to increase as the state’s skilled professional workforce approaches retirement age. Be Pro, Be Proud is an initiative that seeks to brand technical training for several technical trade areas including welding, truck driving, CNC machine operation, and Diesel engine repair. The initiative targets high school and nontraditional students that aren’t necessarily college-bound, and seeks to create awareness and interest in high-demand skilled trades.
A well-trained workforce offers a lot of important benefits to the employees themselves, as well as the economic growth and development of Arkansas communities. The Arkansas Economic Development commission and the Arkansas Governor’s office has been aggressively targeting both foreign and domestic manufacturers to build manufacturing facilities in the state through grants and tax incentives, but unless they can also deliver a workforce to fully staff those facilities, the state misses out on those projects as they go to other states.
The initiative is promoted through social media, live appearances at Job Fairs and other special events, and an engaging website designed to stimulate interest in skilled trades, and direct prospective applicants to the training that they will need to pursue employment in those trades.