Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson takes a virtual spin on a heavy-equipment simulator.

'Be Pro Be Proud' tackles skills gap with 2nd mobile workshop

Sept. 5, 2019
Be Pro Be Proud encourages Arkansans to consider technical training and provides opportunities.

After the success of the Be Pro Be Proud workforce initiative launched in 2016, an additional Be Pro Be Proud Mobile Workshop will begin touring immediately. Be Pro Be Proud encourages Arkansans to consider technical training and provides opportunities, including training and workshops, for students, job seekers, employers and more.

The new 78-foot mobile unit will increase the number of stops and students served resulting in an even larger pipeline of prepared and energized talent choosing one of many high-value, high-wage professional, technical career opportunities available, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA) announced on Thursday.

“Since launching Be Pro Be Proud in 2016, Arkansas has been leading the nation in supporting skilled trade and professions allowing us to better compete in the global marketplace,” said the Hon. Asa Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas. “I encourage everyone to be a part of the Be Pro Be Proud movement. It shows that we are serious about educating parents and young people about these career paths that are essential to our state’s economic growth.” 

The 2019-20 Mobile Workshop Tour, presented by Union Pacific Railroad’s Community Ties Giving Program, will travel the state and visit companies, schools and events to showcase skilled trade professions and continue to broaden awareness of their impact on our state’s workforce. The mobile unit is an engaging tool that provides information about training resources, available positions and descriptions, skills needed, and how to start the process of starting a skilled professional career. 

Utilities have been added to the second-generation workshop as a focus due to the technical needs and income potential. The 12 in-demand professions that continue to be represented include truck driver; diesel tech; locomotive engineer; welder; machinist; computer numerical control (CNC) operator; tool and die maker; computer programmer; computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) drafter; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) tech; plumber; electrician and carpenter.

Altec, the Arkansas Trucking Association, Cooper Tires, Doggett Freightliner, Freightliner Trucks, Maxion Wheels, Pace Industries, and the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) are among the companies and organizations that have voiced their support for the new mobile unit, and provided financial support.

To date, the original mobile unit has made more than 450 stops, in 250 cities across the state at middle schools, high schools, two-year colleges, fairs and festivals, rural community events, job fairs and businesses. More than 60,000 students have visited the trailer.

“It’s important that we contribute to training and development for careers in the vocational field – whether it is truck drivers, diesel techs or other skilled operators. These careers offer a significant amount of opportunities and by raising the awareness and creating a positive conversation around those opportunities, we can attract new talent to these professions,” said Kary Schaefer, general manager, marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America. “We’re pleased to partner with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas and the other partners on its Be Pro Be Proud initiative.”

The state Chamber and its public and private partners launched Be Pro Be Proud in 2016 to address an expanding skills gap in professional trades across the state. Arkansas’s future will depend on changing the perception of these career options and efforts highlighting the many opportunities available within these sectors. Offering Arkansans this insight into the skilled professional workforce will continue to require a team approach that includes employers, schools, elected officials, students and parents who recognize skilled professions for the financial and rewarding career opportunities they are. 

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