U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, will hold a STEM Manufacturer’s Tour July 17-21 in different locations across Northeast Arkansas. The tour will include about 30 educators and will be held in 14 different factories.
“Every year we have 1st District students who graduate without jobs, but at the same time, hundreds of technical jobs across the 1st District remain unfilled,” Crawford said. “We have so many excellent, dynamic, and caring educators who want their kids to grow and succeed here at home, and what we’re trying to do is connect those educators to future employers and continue to build an education-to-career ecosystem in rural Arkansas.”
The tour is an attempt to better foster a connection between educators and manufacturers. The goal of STEM training is to give students and teachers a better idea about what skills and trades companies are seeking from their workforce. There have been efforts to incorporate these concepts into the classroom to better help graduates acquire higher paying jobs after high school.
Last year, Crawford led a group of approximately 20 high school and community college educators on a tour of businesses and manufacturing facilities in Jonesboro, Paragould, Mountain Home, Blytheville, Osceola, Newark, Batesville, and Stuttgart.
Crawford said he took part in the first tour last year after he realized the disconnect between STEM educators and manufacturers. A member of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, Crawford promotes and supports career and technical education throughout the U.S. Currently, there is a wide gap between jobs available in the field and workers qualified for the available positions in Arkansas. About 82% of manufacturers in Arkansas report a moderate or serious shortage in skilled workers.
“Students across the 1st District have different aspirations and learn differently: our education system should reflect that diversity. Some students don’t want to attend a four-year college while others do. For students of either path, STEM professions are increasingly in demand in our state’s economy, which is rapidly shifting to focus on information technology, advanced manufacturing, and bio science. This tour is about leveraging STEM education to fill good jobs and to create an environment of opportunity in both our Delta and Ozark counties,” Crawford said.