Ready Talent

Our Workforce – At the Ready With Proven Skills and Experience:

By the numbers:

County Available
In Labor
Not in
(May 2014)
Ashley 8,700 7,728 972 10.0%
Calhoun 2,324 2,126 198 6.9%
Columbia 9,710 8,908 802 7.7%
Ouachita 10,802 9,812 990 8.0%
Union 16,973 15,623 1,350 7.3%
Total 48,509 44,197 4,312 7.98%

South Arkansas has a highly skilled, certified, award-winning, precision manufacturing workforce trained and seasoned by our primary manufacturers. Those manufacturers require exacting skill sets in chemical production, wood and paper products production, rockets and guided missiles, military vehicles, munitions, oil & gas, and fabricated metals.

welderWhen you are ready to look more specifically at how South Arkansas can provide a good fit for your employee needs, we have the data upon which you can comfortably rely.

Let’s say that the investment that you are considering is in a fabricated metals industry. We identify occupational titles which are typical of that industry and we provide workforce projections and wage rates for each occupational title. For example:

Example: Occupational Titles for Fabricated Metal Product
Assemblers and Fabricators, All Other Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators
Crushing, Grinding, and Polishing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders Cutters and Trimmers, Hand
Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders Drilling and Boring Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Etchers and Engravers First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers
Forging Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders Grinding and Polishing Workers, Hand
Grinding, Lapping, Polishing, and Buffing Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders Heat Treating Equipment Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Machinists Metal Workers and Plastic Workers, All Other
Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders Molding, Coremaking, and Casting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
Plating and Coating Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders Team Assemblers
Tool and Die Makers Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers
Woodworking Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Except Sawing

Here is what our data looks like for two of the above occupational titles.

Workforce Projections for U.S. and Arkansas Machinists
United States Employment
2010 2020 % +/- Avg Jobs Per Yr
370,400 401,900 +9% 9,950
Arkansas Employment
3,860 4,330 +12% 120
2012 Wages for Machinists
Location Pay Period 10% 25% Median 75% 90%
United States Hourly $11.70 $14.97 $18.99 $23.53 $28.75
Yearly $24,300 $31,100 $39,500 $48,900 $59,800
Arkansas Hourly $10.78 $13.09 $16.40 $20.33 $22.70
Yearly $22,400 $27,200 $34,100 $42,300 $47,200
South Arkansas BOS Hourly $8.60 $10.78 $14.22 $19.86 $22.85
Yearly $17,900 $22,400 $29,600 $41,300 $47,500

Below is a list of engineering and engineering technician jobs projected for 2018. Engineers  are in short supply across the United States; it is the hardest job to fill in America. But, you do not successfully run the kinds of industries that we have in South Arkansas without a full roster of engineers. Our companies will tell you that their challenge has been to attract engineers to a rural area, yet they do just that.

Engineering JobsProjected for 2018


Engineering Managers 740 44
Engineers 7,764 598
Civil Engineers 1,678 68
Industrial Engineers 1,559 239
Mechanical Engineers 1,200 114
Total 12,941 1,063
Engineering TechnicianJobs Projected for 2018 Arkansas SouthwestArkansas
Drafters, Engineering,and Mapping Technicians 4,495 331
Civil Engineering Technicians 417 14
Engineering Technicians,Except Drafters, All Other 316 395
Total 5,228 740

Customized Training:  We provide customized training support at two levels:

  1. Our three community colleges offer incumbent employee training through business & training consortium courses subsidized by state funding. SAU Tech in Camden, University of Arkansas at Monticello College of Technology-Crossett, and South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado work directly with companies to design training packages which fit specific company needs. Draw upon their strengths in Aerospace, Engineering, Process Control Systems, Computer Engineering, Welding, and Industrial Equipment Maintenance.
  2. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has a training division through which workforce training resources are coordinated and commitments made as part of state incentive package agreements. Training incentives can include:
    1. Reimbursement of instructor wages for pre-employment and/or on-the-job training
    2. Reimbursement for train-the-trainer expenses, including travel, hotel and meals by persons traveling to Arkansas or from Arkansas to another location to be trained
    3. Recruitment advertising for new employees
    4. Secure facilities for accepting applications and interviewing applicants
    5. Reproduction of training manuals
    6. Training facility space

Workforce Certification: 

There are two different workforce certification programs in South Arkansas:

  • Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) Program, and
  • Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE) Program

Both programs are designed to test and certify against skill sets required by employers. Upon certification, applicants are able to represent a readiness to succeed upon employment. Many of our employers require certification before they will interview a candidate.

The Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) Program is an assessment and certification process used nationwide that measures skills that employers believe are critical to job success, including the ability to learn, listen, communicate, work in teams, and solve problems. Manufacturers like this program because it saves significant dollars in hiring and training costs and reduces their turnover rates dramatically. Having a CRC is the hiring standard in Camden because Camden defense companies now require it. There are three levels of certification: Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Applicants who have a Career Readiness Certificate have proven that they possess crucial workplace skills and abilities, including interpreting charts and graphs, reading memos and applying mathematics to solve problems. The core areas or skills assessed are:

  • Reading for Information—measures the skills used when people read and use written text to do a job. Texts include memos, letters, directions, signs, notices, bulletins, policies, and regulations.
  • Locating Information—measures the skills people use when they work with workplace graphics such as charts, graphs, tables, forms, flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, maps, and instrument gauges.
  • Applied Mathematics—measures skills used when applying mathematical reasoning and problem-solving techniques to work-related problems

The WAGE Program has a strong presence in El Dorado and Magnolia. The core competencies tested for by the Wage Program are

  • Math, reading, and language with a minimum requirement of testing at a 12.9 grade level.
  • Making 100 percent on the WAGE post-test.
  • Making 85 percent on computer literacy test.

In addition, to be certified, candidates must pass a dexterity test, as well as mechanical, aptitude, and spatial relations tests.

Arkansas is a right-to-work state with a very low union bargaining group presence. In a February 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute, right-to-work states were described as having lower unemployment rates, a 3.2% lower wage rate, a 2.6% lower rate of employer-sponsored health insurance, and a 4.8% lower rate of employer-sponsored pensions. The net effect appears to be a healthier state economy in right-to-work states. From a January 2013 blog posting by James M. Hohman with Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

“Since 2001, right-to-work states added a net 1.7 million jobs to their payrolls — this while non-right-to-work states lost 2.1 million jobs. In addition, the unemployment rate in right-to-work states is a full percentage point lower than non-right-to-work states. Even during a tough decade, right-to-work states improved while non-right-to-work states did not.”

“Given the stronger economies, it’s not surprising that right-to-work states attract people from non-right-to-work states. There’s a lot of moving in and moving out of a state in any one period of time, but in just the past two years a net 400,000 people moved from non-right-to-work to right-to-work states.”

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