Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola noted the Little Rock Workforce Development Board’s (LRWDB) recent successes and ongoing workforce development role in his 2018 State of the City Address.
The mayor highlighted expansion of re-entry programs, including the city’s partnership with Goodwill, Our House and the LRWDB on felony re-employment programs. In particular, he discussed the $1.24 million Rock City Reentry Project, a Department of Labor grant that is being used to train and equip at least 155 recently released felons with job skills and soft skill training so they can successfully re-enter the community. Over 1200 Little Rock residents have enrolled in the City of Little Rock’s Re-entry Program, including 375 in 2017; 37 have been hired into the city’s re-entry training program and placed in departments throughout Little Rock.
Mayor Stodola also emphasized the role of the LRWDB’s YouthBuild program in teaching young people carpentry skills. YouthBuild represents one approach for addressing a significant challenge in Little Rock’s communities – “opportunity youth” who are not in the workforce or enrolled in school, coupled with adults who need to be reengaged in school, reconnected to the workforce, and given a chance to advance beyond low-wage jobs.
Going forward, the LRWDB has a role to play in the “Little Rock for Life” initiative, a multi-purposed approach to decrease violence and an action plan to re-build neighborhoods launched in July 2017. The LRWDB is also an integral part of facing challenges associated with the “future of work” – like technology advancement and skill gaps due to high rates of worker retirement. As Mayor Stodola stated, “As city leaders, we need to be asking the right questions and bringing the right people together to address these critical elements of the future of work.”