St. Bernards, ASU-Newport partner to tackle workforce development

by George Jared ([email protected]) 375 views 

St. Bernards Healthcare has entered into a partnership with Arkansas State University-Newport (ASUN) to provide employment for individuals dislocated from work or struggling with poverty.

The partnership, part of the Arkansas Delta Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities (ADWORC) program, aims to increase the labor participation rate in ASUN’s service areas by preparing workers in manufacturing, hospitality and allied health industries. ADWORC participants will undergo a free, five-week training course through ASUN while also earning a $100 per week incentive. Upon graduation, they will begin working at St. Bernards in the Nutritional Services or Environmental Services departments.

St. Bernards Vice President of Human Resources Lori Smith said ASUN will source program candidates through Goodwill Industries International, Inc. while also making personal visits to lower income neighborhoods throughout Jonesboro and Trumann.

“St. Bernards believes in breaking the poverty cycles that have plagued our region for far too long,” Smith said. “As the largest employer in our region, we’re always looking to provide gainful opportunities where they may not have existed. The ADWORC program aligns with our mission of providing Christ-like healing to the community through education, treatment and health services, and it’s exciting to see what will come from this partnership with ASU-Newport.”

St. Bernards joins a list of other local employers in the ADWORC program. ADWORC is completely funded by a $2.3 million federal grant with the dollars shared among five Arkansas Delta Training and Education Consortium (ADTEC) colleges. Eligible participants must either have an annual household income below $86,475 or be unemployed because of a layoff.