SILOAM SPRINGS (KFSM) — With a shortage of skilled workers at local manufacturing plants, high schools in northwest Arkansas are adding programs to get students work-ready.
The Siloam Springs High School CASS program is teaching students in the classroom skills like welding and electrical work they can use to get jobs once they graduate. This is thanks to partners like Simmons Foods.
Principal Anne Martfeld said they listened to their community partners needs and found out they were in need of people who can work in industrial maintenance technology.
“That should drive a school, a school district to ensure that the students that we are putting out there so to speak are not just college ready but career and industry ready and that they'll stay in Siloam Springs and become quality contributors to our local community,” she said.
Senior Sidney Perkins decided to join the program after taking an agriculture metals class sophomore year.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to get ahead of the game so that when I'm out of high school I can go to welding school and I can also possibly in here getting my welding certification if I get enough practice,” Perkins said.
Chief Administrative Officer for Simmons Foods, Russell Tooley said students from CASS will help fill their need, especially when they open and add more than a thousand new jobs at their Benton County facility.
“There is a big need for technical skills, not only in Arkansas but in the nation and this definitely provides a big opportunity for those kids to learn those skills, take them on and further their career at places like Simmons and other companies, “Tooley said.
The high school also offers certified medical assistant and phlebotomy technician courses through the program.
The classes are free since it's part of the public-school system.
In the future, the school is hoping to add programs in information technology.