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North Arkansas College partners with skill gap workforce program

Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:23 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - North Arkansas College is working with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to implement the Future Fit Program in partnership with the campus.

The manufacturing industry in North Arkansas is vital. As North Arkansas College Dean of Technical and Outreach Programs Nell Bonds says, the need to keep positions filled is a must.

”I think its hugely important for employers right now to find employees,” said Bonds.

And with the pandemic, Bob Largent of the Chamber of Commerce believes the need may be higher than ever.

“The need is real, and we’ve got vacancies today,” said Largent. “Just in Harrison, we have 370 vacancies in our prime businesses.”

Many believe a solution may be the Future Fit Program. Future Fit is a skill gap workforce program which looks to produce work-ready employees.

”Our effort, is to make sure we bring a uniform prepared applicant to companies that look to hire these folks,” said Steve Sparks of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Nine other community college campuses have implemented the project, which covers approximately two-thirds of the state. The goal is to be the bridge between workers and employers needing to fill production positions. But who’s it for?

”Its open for any individual with a high school diploma, or a GED, and has earned a bronze level national career certificate from the ACT,” said Sparks.

Along with that, almost everyone can enter the program at no cost.

”Applicants for this program can earn a scholarship through the Office of Skill Development and Department of Commerce in Arkansas,” said Sparks. “So there’s actually no out-of-pocket expenses for any applicants at any level for this program.”

The program will address a need now, and also prepare for the future.

”As it’s implemented and rolled out to the high school as feeders for North Arkansas College, this is going to provide a ready-skilled workforce for all of our businesses for the future,” said Largent.

An opportunity that could benefit many.

”I think it’s a win for everyone. First, it’s a win for the students because they feel more ready to enter the workforce. It’s a win for the college because it allows us to provide opportunities for them and a pathway for continued education. And it’s a win for our employers as they are seeking these employees that need to be trained and are desperately needed right now,” said Bonds.

For more information on Future Fit you can visit their website.

North Arkansas hopes to soon have application available at http://www.northark.edu/.

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