STUTTGART, Ark.—The SHRM Foundation attended the Be Pro Be Proud series at the Grand Prairie Draft Day event at the Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart, Ark on March 29. Joined by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and business leaders from across the state, SHRM Foundation President Wendi Safstrom addressed local high school students and community leaders to encourage the pursuit of technical professions and emphasize the importance of skilled credentials to address the nationwide workforce shortage.
"The next generation of employees will help define the future of the workplace," said Wendi Safstrom, president of SHRM Foundation. "SHRM Foundation is proud to partner with initiatives like Be Pro Be Proud as we work together to inspire and empower HR professionals to create multiple pathways to work—ones that recognize and respect the value people with skilled credentials bring to their businesses as we enter into a skills-based economy."
Be Pro Be Proud's second annual Draft Day series is a multi-day event across four Arkansas regions. Held March 28-30, the Grand Prairie stop—the third in the series—engaged Arkansas employers with qualified students who have pre-matched with represented industries. Be Pro Be Proud also facilitated introductions between participating employers and the Arkansas Office of Skills Development (AOSD) to better understand how to access state and federal resources designed to assist in recruiting, training, and upskilling new and existing talent.
"Addressing the skilled labor shortage is vital for our state to continue to thrive in the competitive global economy," said Governor Sanders. "By investing in programs like Be Pro Be Proud and encouraging high school students to pursue technical professions, we are preparing our future workforce and ensuring its long-term success and growth."
Sanders was the keynote speaker at the Draft Day kickoff event. Safstrom also spoke to attendees about the SHRM Foundation's commitment to connecting all talent to employment opportunities through its Untapped Pools of Talent programming and leveraging the Foundation's campaign promoting the value of skilled credentials and the individuals who earn them. Other speakers at the event included Randy Zook, president and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA) and the AIA Foundation; G. Keith Pinchback, chancellor of the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas; Jeffry McKinney, Stuttgart School District superintendent; Bethany Hildebrand, president and CEO of the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce; and Andrew Parker, executive director of the AIA Foundation and Be Pro Be Proud Inc.
"We are thankful to Governor Sanders and our business partners for their commitment to cultivating our future workforce," said Randy Zook, President of the Associated Industries of Arkansas Foundation, Inc., the founding organization of Be Pro Be Proud. "By bridging the gap between students and employers, we can create a stronger and more profitable Arkansas. We are excited to showcase the opportunities available across technical professions and empower the next generation of workers to pursue rewarding careers in Arkansas's construction, forestry, manufacturing, transportation, and utility sectors."
For more information on Be Pro Be Proud's Draft Day events, visit https://www.beprobeproudar.org/draft-days-2023.
About the SHRM Foundation
Founded in 1966, the SHRM Foundation is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the world's largest HR professional society, SHRM. SHRM represents more than 300,000 HR professionals across the globe, impacting 115 million workers and their families. The SHRM Foundation mobilizes the power of HR for positive social change in the workplace. Its robust resources, meaningful partnerships and evidence-based programming educate and empower HR professionals to hire diverse talent, build inclusive workplaces, prioritize workplace mental health and wellness, develop, and support the next generation of HR professionals, and help employees find purpose at work and beyond. Learn more at shrmfoundation.org.
About Be Pro Be Proud Arkansas
Be Pro Be Proud Arkansas is a workforce development initiative led by ASCC/AIA that connects students around the state to high-tech, high-paying careers. Through partnerships with state agencies, local industry and high education entities, Be Pro Be Proud us effectively working to change the perception of technical professions in Arkansas and across the United States. Be Pro Be Proud was launched in Arkansas in 2016 and has since licensed efforts in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Mexico, and North Carolina.