This year, we worked hard to fund four new Career Centers in Ashdown, Clarksville, Mountain Home and Paris, Arkansas. This gives us more than 32 Career Centers in Arkansas. These are vital programs and an important part of our workforce training.
Why? It’s simple. They help our graduates land good jobs. In turn, a better-educated workforce attracts more businesses and industries. That’s a cycle we want to see repeated again and again.
A great example of how all this works is at the career center in the Logan County town of Paris. The school district there opened a training center in partnership with Arkansas Tech University-Ozark and a variety of local businesses. Among them are Cloyes Gear, Stark Manufacturing and Mercy Hospital. The center in Paris complements the school district’s existing curriculums and helps students become more college, career and life ready.
These courses specifically prepare students for careers in manufacturing and the medical field. In time, they’ll expand to other professions. Local businesses have taken notice. Across the state, business partners will provide students at career centers with training, supplies, personnel and, ultimately, jobs.
This type of public-private partnership is the model I see for job-skills training in Arkansas. It’s what I outlined when I announced our package of workforce initiatives, which the legislature passed and I signed into law during the last session of the General Assembly.
It’s not necessary for everyone to invest in and attend a four-year college to achieve their version of the American Dream. The cost of a four-year degree is substantial — and it’s getting higher every year. And too often, that four-year degree becomes a six-year degree. Or at least a six-year quest. The longer it takes a student to complete college, the larger the investment and the lower the return on that investment.
Our workforce initiative includes partnerships with industries, two-year colleges, technical colleges and high schools. Through these partnerships, every student can have access to a job after they graduate and the opportunity to excel in their chosen field.
I’ve said it before: There’s nothing you can do that you can’t do in Arkansas.
Students, you have the world at your fingertips. I want your best opportunities to be right here in Arkansas. We pledge to continue develop more Career Centers so that your dreams become a reality.