PREP-ing Students for their Future
PEA RIDGE, AR – Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services – Fortune 500 companies – are in our backyard and they’re growing. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often, a fact not lost on Northwest Arkansas Council Chief Operating Officer Mike Harvey. What these corporate giants need, though, that they can’t readily buy is a pipeline that yields a steady flow of STEM-trained employees who possess well-developed transferable soft skills.
With a plummeting unemployment rate due to explosive business growth in the region, Northwest Arkansas had an issue when Harvey arrived seven years ago. So, he interviewed hundreds of business leaders to determine their specific needs.
“We’re getting feedback from them on, ‘What are your issues, the burrs in your saddle, what might they be?’ The responses covered everything from community services to education,” Harvey said. “With zero surprise to me, the results showed that workforce was issue one.”