Governor visits Monticello to launch statewide initiative
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched the ACT Work Ready Community initiative in an address Tuesday morning at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
A full house in the Green Room of the John F. Gibson University Center was welcomed by UAM Chancellor Karla Hughes. She expressed her appreciation to the governor and the legislators for helping get this initiative “up and running.”
Opening remarks were made by Sen. Eddie Cheatham. He welcomed his fellow legislators, educators and the group of high school students from all across Southeast Arkansas that are already participating in the ACT Work Ready program.
Jon Laffoon, the superintendent at the Star City School District, spoke to the crowd about how the people in this area are our best resource. “We have great schools and great natural resources here in Southeast Arkansas, but I have always believed it is our people that make this region so great,” Laffoon said.
Potlatch Corporation Human Resources Manager Bethany Robbins told the audience how important this initiative was to industry in this area.
“Employers don’t always have time to vet hundreds of potential new employees,” Robbins said. “When an applicant has this Work Ready certifi cation, it should give them the leg up in the eyes of a potential employer.”
Cheatham then introduced the governor. Hutchinson received a standing ovation from the audience when he announced that the unemployment rate in Arkansas right now is 3.6 percent—the lowest in Arkansas recorded history and well under the national average rate of 4.8 percent.
“We had a great legislative session,” Hutchinson said. “I am proud of everything that was accomplished. I look forward to seeing this ACT Work Ready initiative go far in the state and especially in the Southeast region.
“I will continue to recruit industry, as I have since my fi rst day in offi ce, to Arkansas and especially timber industry to this area. The goal for this initiative is to be able to show these industries we have qualifi ed and willing workers.”
The program ended with Chris Masingill, the co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, thanking the governor and other politicians present for supporting this project.
The ACT Work Ready project’s goal is to link workforce development to education, align the economic development needs of communities, regions and state and match individuals to jobs based on skill levels, Hutchinson noted.
Students will receive a National Career Readiness Certifi cate and many employers recognize the NCRC. According to the ACT Work Ready Community website, the NCRC is a portable, industry- recognized credential that clearly identifi es an individual’s WorkKeys skills in reading for information, applied math and locating information. These skills are required for 77 percent of jobs, based on ACT JobPro database.