The “traditional” college track isn’t for everyone. Dustin Primm realized that when he was a senior in high school, and it didn’t take him long to find a future in welding. “I really found out what I wanted to do my senior year,” Primm said. “That’s when I last picked up the welder and thought I’m going to make a career out of this.”
Arkansas community colleges host summer day camps for community youth through June and August 2019. Mostly free of charge, these camps focus on future career paths in manufacturing, industrial technology, computer science and design, robotics, welding, healthcare, diesel technology, hospitality, and mechatronics, as well as general science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. These career focuses are industries projected to experience the most growth in Arkansas over the next decade. Colleges are investing in local youth to allow for more skilled workers to fill these jobs in the future.
After veteran Justin Scheel and his family relocated to Arkansas, Justin saw a billboard for Aviation at Ozarka College. He realized that this was his calling, and he knew that he could see himself with a career in flying. He says, “One thing that going to school at Ozarka College has taught me is that you are never too old to set another goal and pursue your dreams.”
In 2017, Tyson Foods launched an internship program for college students in connection with the University of Arkansas Cossatot. Paid internship positions in refrigeration and maintenance were made available year-round to any UA Cossatot student enrolled in industrial technology courses with starting pay ranging from $12 - $14 per hour.
Tem Gunter, Human Resource Manager of Tyson Foods in Nashville, says “The internship program is a success. Students are gaining valuable work experience and making connections in their chosen field.” Adding, “We’re excited to see interns transitioning into full-time maintenance team positions and look forward to inviting new talent into the program.”
“I chose to continue taking classes at UA Cossatot because the classes I took through the college while I was in high school helped me get a head start,” said Martinez. “It was also cheaper, close to home, and the welding class met in the afternoon and evening, which allowed me to go to school after work. My teachers taught me what I needed to know and I was able to get a job in the same area.”
An internship at Intimidator Inc. led to a full-time career for University of Arkansas Community College Batesville graduate Aaron Smith. Aaron, who is now a product developer for Intimidator’s UTV line, started with the company as an intern working on a project detailing computer-aided drawings while earning his Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Technology.
“Construction companies are looking for people who are motivated and willing to learn more … construction is going to be a lot of multi-tasking. You’re not just on one project … five at one time or five spread out,” said NWACC alumna and 2018 Construction Technology grad Maria Garcia. “Honestly, make connections. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there. The work is out there. You just have to look.”
The bi-partisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, first proposed by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio in 2017, may have a new ally in President Donald Trump.
The bill, which aims to expand Pell Grant eligibility to include certain short-term job training programs, mirrors language used in the 2020 presidential budget. As part of his budget mission statement, Trump highlighted a commitment to "investing in America's students and workers," and listed Pell Grants as one of two key ways he planned to realize this goal.
A first-generation student whose parents are immigrants from El Salvador, Sergio grew up in Springdale and has always been interested in food and culinary arts. Following different experiences, he decided being a chef in a restaurant wasn't his ultimate goal. After graduating in 2017 from Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, a division of NorthWest Arkansas Community College providing culinary arts training, he is focused on working for a large corporation, and possibly traveling around the world, learning about food trends and production.
Companies across Arkansas are searching for skilled laborers to fill as many as 60,000 open positions. To qualify for these high-paying positions, laborers will need training that doesn’t necessarily require earning a four-year degree from a university. Arkansas’ community colleges and technical schools are providing the next wave of skilled laborers a shorter path to jobs and prosperity with a fraction of the debt.
January 9, 2019, marked the Topping Out Ceremony for NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s (NWACC) Integrated Design Lab (IDL) on the Bentonville campus. The ceremony celebrated the last beam placed on the structure, a milestone for the college.
The IDL will provide needed classroom and lab space for key academic programs in visual arts and construction technology - Both represent significantly growing career fields in the Northwest Arkansas. The structure will also house space that supports general fine arts, sculpture, ceramics and a Fab Lab with 3D printers, a CNC router, laser cutting equipment and other tools.
Saline County voters had passed a sales tax that will provide money for the Saline County Career and Technical Center, which will be devoted to high school students from the county's six school districts. The center will be about 120,000 square feet and serve approximately 500 students, said Angie Dischinger, Bryant's assistant superintendent of secondary education. Instruction will be provided by College of the Ouachitas staff and will count for college credit.
When Arkansas Northeastern College opened its new Center for Allied Technologies, it consolidated three facilities, enhanced its role as a leader in custom training and education and brought the world to its doorstep.
Built for more than $14 million, the center opened on the Blytheville campus at the outset of the school year and will offer customized training for the manufacturing industry, cohort programs in a number of fields and career-based programs for secondary students who can also earn college credit.