Governor Sanders Announces Arkansas Workforce Strategy

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders today announced the Arkansas Workforce Strategy, a report from her Chief Workforce Officer detailing ways to grow and develop Arkansas’ workforce. The Governor established the role of Chief Workforce Officer and the Workforce Cabinet at the beginning of her term through Executive Order and tasked the group with developing this report. Mike Rogers serves as Arkansas’ Chief Workforce Officer.

“Arkansas’ economy is booming, but if we don’t get workers off the sidelines and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, we won’t reap the full rewards of that growth,” said Governor Sanders. “I tasked Mike Rogers and the Workforce Cabinet with making Arkansas a national leader in workforce development. This workforce strategy will guide us toward that goal and help put every Arkansan on the path to a good-paying, valuable career.”

“Arkansas’s workforce is one of our state’s greatest strengths. This administration wants to support and empower hard working men and women, which is why the Governor tasked me with creating this workforce strategy. There isn’t a better time to find value and purpose in the workplace, and as we implement this strategy, we’ll help every Arkansan find the motivation and skills they need to thrive,” said Mike Rogers, Arkansas’ Chief Workforce Officer.

The Workforce Strategy’s topline recommendations are below. A full list of the report’s recommendations and proposed ways to achieve them can be found here.

Recommendation #1: The Arkansas Department of Commerce should lead the alignment of business and industry priorities.

  • Realign division policies and practices to improve skills to meet employer needs.

Recommendation #2: The Arkansas Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Transformation and Shared Services, should lead the alignment of training and career pathways to ensure students learn applicable skills and competencies.

  • Identify which skills are most important to Arkansas employers and reward meaningful credentials, i.e., certificates, diplomas, degrees, that align with the needs of job seekers, educators, and employers.
  • Improve the public school accountability system to reward schools for providing real-world skills through high demand industry certifications.
  • Effectively market non-traditional postsecondary paths.
  • Realign the higher education funding formula to enhance the value of providing training that leads to gainful employment.

Recommendation #3: Provide services to meet the needs and goals of job seekers and employers.

  • Create a statewide workforce portal that allows Arkansans to:
    • Seek jobs aligned to their skillset.
    • Further their training and education to develop job readiness and real-world skills.
    • Access existing resources, scholarships, and grants.
    • Access a record of their skills and educational background that provides hiring and enrollment insight for employers and institutions of higher education.

Recommendation #4:  Invest in regional strategic focus centers.

  • Align focus centers with Arkansas’ market strengths: Aerospace and Defense, Advanced Manufacturing, Firearm and Ammunition Manufacturing, Energy, Forestry, Food Manufacturing, Industrial Maintenance/Refrigeration/Boiler, Lithium Mining and Battery Technology, Precision Agriculture, Semiconductors, and Steel Manufacturing.
  • Enhance programs at existing Career and Technical Education and Secondary Career Centers in the following areas: Broadband, Construction, Engineering, Healthcare, Law Enforcement/EMT/Fire, Leadership/IT/Retail/Entrepreneurship, Skilled Trades, Tourism and Outdoor Economy, Transportation, and Utilities.
  • Align state and federal resources with the workforce strategy to maximize outcomes and economic development.
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