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New report recommends strategy for growing Arkansas workforce

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New report recommends strategy for growing Arkansas workforce

Feb 15, 2024 | 5:12 pm ET
By Antoinette Grajeda
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New report recommends strategy for growing Arkansas workforce
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(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A state report released Thursday outlines steps for growing and developing Arkansas’ workforce.

The Arkansas Workforce Strategy report, which was prepared by Arkansas Chief Workforce Officer Mike Rogers, made four main recommendations:

  • The Arkansas Department of Commerce should lead the alignment of business and industry priorities.
  • 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.
  • Provide services to meet the needs and goals of job seekers and employers.
  • Invest in regional strategic focus centers.

Arkansas employers are facing significant challenges attracting skilled workers due to low labor force participation and educational attainment, as well as “an increasingly dynamic labor market with evolving skill requirements,” according to the report.

January-23-Final-Workforce-Strategy-copy-1

 

The workforce strategy presented in the report will help Arkansas become a national leader in workforce development and help Arkansans find “a good-paying, valuable career,” Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press release.

“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,” Sanders said.

About 1.4 million people are part of the workforce in Arkansas where the unemployment rate was 3.4% in December, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s up from 2.6% in June and July of last year, the state’s lowest unemployment rate over the last decade. 

“Arkansas’s workforce is one of our state’s greatest strengths…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,” Rogers said.

The Arkansas Workforce Strategy report is a result of an executive order that last year created the role of Chief Workforce Officer and the Workforce Cabinet. The order directed the report to be submitted to the governor by Oct. 1, but the governor extended the deadline.