With the number of Arkansas’s skilled professional workforce aging fast, a gap is being created in finding qualified Arkansans to fill these positions.

With the number of Arkansas’s skilled professional workforce aging fast, a gap is being created in finding qualified Arkansans to fill these positions.
Arkadelphia High School Principal David Maxwell hopes to take another step in preparing today’s youth for their next step in life by hosting an industry fair. The free event, which will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 27 and Thursday, Sept. 28 from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on the parking lot of Arkadelphia High School, is open to students from Arkadelphia High School, students from surrounding school districts and the general public.
Maxwell noted the different types of technology that students at Arkadelphia High School are studying.
“When you put them all together you get a system. All these technological systems have to be tied together,” said Maxwell.
In an effort to help the students gain a better understanding of how to apply the technology, Maxwell said plans were launched to hold an industry fair. He hopes the students will not only learn the required educational components they will need for certain jobs, but also become familiar with the skills necessary to do the job.
“Hopefully they can figure it out a little bit while they are in high school,” Maxwell said.
According to Maxwell, the entire campus of Arkadelphia High School will be seen during the two-day fair.
“I want the kids to have an idea of what is out there,” said Maxwell.
MidSouth Forestry, the Arkansas Truckers Association, South Central Electric Utilities and Georgia Pacific Timber Products are among some of the vendors who are expected to attend the event.
“I reached out all summer long to different vendors and industries (such as) timber, industry, construction and transportation. It has now grown to education willing to come on campus so we now have a couple of colleges bringing their admissions people to talk about what programs they have in place to assist with these things that we will showing,” Maxwell said.
In addition, Henderson State University will provide aviation simulators and information from its Small Business Technology Development Center.
“We’re asking the vendors to talk about career prospects in their field,” Maxwell explained.
With the addition of the Sun Bio mill, Maxwell said there are some things must come into place in order to properly support the industry.
“Sun Bio is coming in and creating an opportunity for the satellite industries that are going to be created to support it. That’s what this is about. This is for the entrepreneur, the small business person, the individual who is going to go out and do the transportation logistics,” said Maxwell.
To his knowledge, Maxwell is not aware of any schools that have held an industry fair for its students. He hopes the students will consider the possibility of starting their own business based on the experience they have gained.
“Small professional businesses create a lot of wealth in the community,” Maxwell said.
There are an estimated 5.6 million job openings in the U.S. today. Approximately 60,000 of these openings exist in Arkansas with the majority being in high skilled technical fields. This gap in our state’s employment can be directly attributed to a lack of knowledge, interest and preparation for these opportunities among younger generations.
“We want the students to know that there are high-skilled and high demanded jobs out there that require specific training to do, but you can make a good living doing it. I think Clark County is about to grow and our kids need to see what’s available,” said Maxwell.

Vendors who would like to participate can contact Maxwell at david.maxwell@arkadelphiaschools.org to reserve a spot.