State Chamber/AIA Announces “Be Pro Be Proud” Workforce Initiative

The State Chamber/AIA along with Welsco have announced the launch of a new initiative, “Be Pro Be Proud,” to bring a new generation of price, progress and professionals to Arkansas’s skilled workforce. Featured at the event, held at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock on Tuesday, March 8, were Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio and State Chamber/AIA President & CEO Randy Zook. Today’s skilled and professional workforce is aging out and the next generation of new talent is not sufficient to fill the demand. Nationwide, there are an estimated 5.6 million job openings, with approximately 60,000 of those in Arkansas. The majority are in high skilled technical fields. These jobs make up a vast majority of the manufacturing sector, a cornerstone of the state’s economy, which represents more than 90 percent of Arkansas’s exports. In addition, industries such as construction and trucking are also struggling to find qualified technical professionals.

The ”Be Pro Be Proud” initiative targets many key audiences including high school and nontraditional students, current skilled professionals, legislators, parents, teachers, career coaches and employers. Research conducted prior to the development of the campaign indicates that 82 percent of companies regularly have positions they are unable to fill with qualified workers. Furthermore, 44 percent of average, entry-level salaries for these open positions start at or above $31,000. The “Be Pro Be Proud” initiative is using a mobile unit to travel the state and visit companies, schools and events to showcase skilled trade professions and broaden awareness of their impact on the state’s workforce. The “Be Arkansas Pro” mobile unit is an engaging tool that will provide information about training resources, currently available positions and descriptions, skills needed, and how to start the process of starting a skilled professional career. The initiative also has a website, BeProBeProud.org, which serves as a content hub for young professionals to learn more and for employers to actively engage students.

Sponsors of Be Pro Be Proud include the Delta Regional Authority, the State of Arkansas, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the Arkansas Department of Career Education, the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, the Arkansas Trucking Association, Associated General Contractors – Arkansas, Entergy Arkansas, Haas Automation, Nucor Steel and Nucor-Yamato, Pace Industries, Truck Centers of Arkansas, Stone Ward, Walmart and Welsco Inc. Welsco supplied one of Lincoln Electric's VRTEX Virtual Reality Arc Welding Trainers that is used in the mobile unit.