MONTICELLO, AR — A grant for $988,570 from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to fund technical training and career readiness has been presented to the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas.
The grant, which will be disbursed in four equal installments over a 17-month period beginning August 1, will be used to coordinate secondary and postsecondary education to “create a successful economic climate in Arkansas by preparing and encouraging Arkansans to pursue high demand jobs, including, but not limited to, those stemming from industry-recognized credentials, career and technical certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees,” according to the memorandum of understanding between UAM and the ADHE.
The Workforce Alliance of Southeast Arkansas is a partnership of industry, business, higher education, public education and economic development managers covering seven counties – Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Desha, Drew and Lincoln. Business and industry partners currently involved in the alliance include Clearwater Pulp and Paper Corporation of Arkansas City, Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Corporation of Crossett, Potlatch Corporation of Warren, JB’s Diesel Doctor and Monticello Diesel Repair, both of Monticello, and Summit Trucking of Pine Bluff.
The grant will help fund a four-pronged program that will include:
• Enhancing the electromechanical technology and instrumentation programs at the UAM College of Technology-Crossett to include a new course in industrial automation and robotics and new equipment as well as creating similar electromechanical technology programs at the UAM College of Technology-McGehee;
• A machine operator training program hosted by Georgia-Pacific in Crossett called GP Crossett Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, a pilot program to train completers as multi-skilled craftsmen with mechanical and electrical skills to enable them to set, tend, operate, and efficiently maintain their own machines. According to Chris Clark, senior human resources manager for Georgia-Pacific in Crossett and Training Manager Cathie Hillier, “There is an increasing amount of automation going into the manufacturing that we do that requires our employees to be able to not only work on this equipment, but also troubleshoot issues and handle basic equipment alignment and reliability needs. These types of premium skill sets are highlighted in the program and part of the on-the-job training for individuals selected to participate in this work-learn combination design.”
• A technical certificate program in diesel technology by the UAM College of Technology-McGehee to provide training in diesel repair as well as instruction in driving tractor-trailer rigs;
• Training county leaders in public and higher education, economic development, and business and industry to make their respective communities ACT® Work-Ready Communities. A Work-Ready Community is one in which business and industry provide support to encourage employees and potential employees to earn the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, a credential signifying competence in reading for information, locating information and applied mathematics as those skills pertain to particular occupations.
UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes commended the work of Janie Carter, assistant vice chancellor of the UAM College of Technology-Crossett, and Campbell Wilkerson, business and industry liaison, also of the Crossett campus, for their efforts in developing the grant proposal.
“This is an important day, not just for UAM and our technology campuses, but for all of southeast Arkansas,” Hughes said. “This grant will fund programs with far-reaching benefits to the region. There are so many high-demand jobs in this region that are not being filled simply because we don’t have a trained workforce to fill those jobs. This program, and this grant, will help alleviate that shortage of trained workers.”
For more information, contact Jim Brewer, director of media services, at (870) 460-1274.
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