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Arkansas Department of Workforce Services 2008 Annual Report
From the Director
In 2008, DWS launched and expanded several programs for both employers and job seekers.
We continued to promote the Arkansas Career Readiness Certificate program and provided information to employers about our new Training Trust Fund, which provides funding to train new and incumbent workers.
We also partnered with community colleges and local organizations to provide job training for returning veterans and dislocated workers.
The year was not without its challenges, as Arkansas saw an increase in business closures and layoffs around the state. The Governor's Dislocated Worker Task Force conducted numerous workshops for affected workers.
Vision: To be Arkansas' preferred provider of workforce services and solutions.
Mission: To enable the Arkansas workforce to compete in the global economy by linking a comprehensive array of services for employers and job seekers.
Career Readiness Certificate
In Calendar Year 2008, Arkansas awarded 7,739 Career Readiness Certificates. The program was rolled out statewide in January to meet the needs of employers for a qualified workforce. The certificate provides confirmation to employers that job seekers possess skills in reading, math and locating information — skills that all jobs require.
Arkansas employers have experienced dramatic reductions in turnover and training costs, and job seekers, who can earn a gold, silver or bronze CRC signed by the governor, have another credential they can use to assure employers that they have the basic workplace skills for 21st century jobs.
Get in the Game
Small businesses are the backbone of Arkansas' economy, and because DWS recognizes that entrepreneurship is another form of employment, the agency hosted the Get in the Game Entrepreneurial Conference and Expo in November. Entrepreneurial experts were on hand to provide information and tips to those wanting to start or expand an existing business.
More than 600 participants and 50 exhibitors, including the Small Business Administration, educational institutions and successful entrepreneurs, attended. Workshops were held throughout the day, providing information about various topics including business planning, financing and marketing.
DWS will host Get in the Game II in November 2009.
Community Day Events
DWS hosted four Community Day Events around the state in 2008 to provide information to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families clients (including Career Pathways and Work Pays clients), dislocated workers and the general public about the services DWS and its partners provide.
These events were held in North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, West Memphis and Bentonville, with between 200 and 300 people attending each event.
Various partners, including educational institutions and nonprofit organizations, attended each event, and employment-related workshops were held throughout the day.
Training Trust Fund Program
The DWS Training Trust Fund Program was created to improve the skills of new and existing employees. Through the program, qualified businesses can receive funds to train employees to meet industry skill requirements.
Priority is given to the following:
Workers trained: 1,791
Truck Driver Training Program
In May 2008, Gov. Mike Beebe announced a new pilot initiative to train displaced workers and other eligible Arkansans as truck drivers. DWS partnered with the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board, Arkansas State University at Newport, Mid-South Community College in West Memphis and the Arkansas Trucking Association to provide the training.
Tuition is paid for qualified applicants, as well as room and board in certain instances. Upon completion, graduates are connected with Arkansas trucking companies that have job openings. Applicants must work at least one year with an Arkansas trucking company to qualify for the tuition-free program.
For more information, go to www.TruckingArkansas.com.
Staff at three offices relocated in 2008.
Services for Veterans
DWS participated in a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Labor Veterans' Employment and Training Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program to expand services to a larger population of disabled veterans. A full-time Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program specialist is now stationed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital complex at Fort Roots in North Little Rock to provide employment services to disabled veterans.
DWS also partnered with the Arkansas National Guard Reintegration Team to provide information about agency services to the 3,200 members of the 39th Infantry Brigade upon their return from deployment to Iraq.
Dislocated Worker Task Force
The Governor's Dislocated Worker Task Force assisted thousands of people who lost their jobs because of layoffs or closures.
DWS serves as the lead agency for the task force and partners with the Arkansas AFL-CIO to provide services to help dislocated workers transition back into the workforce.
In addition to meeting with company officials, the task force coordinated multiple workshops and opportunity fairs in 2008 that provided information to affected employees about unemployment insurance benefits, retirement, insurance and employment services, such as resume preparation, interviewing skills training, how to start a small business and educational opportunities.
Companies reporting layoffs or closures: 133
Practical Nursing Program
The Governor's Dislocated Worker Task Force partnered with Arkansas Tech University - Ozark and area hospitals to offer the Practical Nursing Program again in 2008 for dislocated workers.
To be eligible, dislocated workers must qualify for Trade Adjustment Assistance as a result of a layoff or closure due to foreign competition.
Upon completing the one-year program, participants receive their practical nursing certification. As part of the partnership, area hospitals consider the graduates for employment.
2008 Graduates: 16
Camden Workforce Partnership
DWS joined economic, educational and business entities in Camden to form the Camden Workforce Partnership.
The primary goal of the organization, which also includes the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development, Southern Arkansas University Tech and the Calhoun-Ouachita County Business and Industry Training Council, is to promote area workforce opportunities and training programs and to provide incentives designed to increase the number of job seekers who have Arkansas Career Readiness Certificates, associate degrees, certificates of proficiency and technical certificates.
Many employers in the area are participating, and incentives ranging from $25 to $250 are available to clients who complete various agency training programs.
Arkansas Department of Workforce Services
"Equal Opportunity Employer/Program"