thv11 workforce

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Thousands of Arkansas high school seniors have now graduated. Some may be on their way to the workforce.

We wanted to know how the job market is looking for these graduates and are they finding opportunities right out of high school.

Kristin Herring with Pulaski County Special School District said a great deal of students are deciding to enter the workforce right out of high school. These graduates are finding they have their pick of the lot when it comes to choosing an industry.

PCSSD is working to get their students ready for whichever they choose.

“The high costs of post-secondary education, the need to help their families with paying the bills and because they are unsure of what field they want to enter,” Kristin Herring with Pulaski County Special School District said.

These are the main reasons Kristen Herring said high school graduates are entering the workforce at high numbers.

“Working allows them to gain some experience so that when they start post-secondary education if they would like to, they know what field they want to enter,” Herring said.

So what jobs are out there? Well, many industries took a hit from the pandemic and are still recovering industries like restaurants, food and beverage retail even healthcare. 

Herring said there's a bigger need for certain positions.

“Especially entry level positions,” Herring said.

Of the 2021 graduates for Pulaski County Special School District, 45% of them went straight to get their college degree. Many choosing two-year colleges mainly to be closer to home while saving money.

“What they're finding is that if they start in a two-year college, they get their basics they can explore different careers,” Herring explained.

Now PCSSD is on the road to helping future graduates get insight on what career they want before they get a college acceptance letter.

“The career academy model, we have been designated as a Ford NGL district,” Herring said.

It's Ford Next Generation Learning, students will learn their academics through the lens of a career all from business partners.

“These partners actually help us develop pathways that students can learn they get industry certifications while they're in school,” Herring explained.

This all helps students to get their footing in a possible career, enroll in a college or university then keep their talents in the natural state.

“Ideally, we would see our students stay home closer to home in Arkansas and return to the workforce here,” Herring said

Kristin Herring said that students who are able to pass their industry certification, or become concentrators in their coursework through these career pathways, will have the chance at internship which will not only give them experience for resume, but a chance to get a job offer with that company.

When PCSSD created these pathways, they chose careers with high demand high skills and high wages.