Good Jobs Going Begging

POSTED 10-16-07  7:00 PM CDT

ARMOREL - Skilled labor wanted!

In Mississippi county good paying industrial jobs go begging for workers. Some say it may be lack of skilled workers, poor preparation in the schools or other reasons.

"There are probably 1500 to 2000 jobs they tell me a year that go begging here in this area." Says Prospect Steel Company Plant Manager. Prospect Steel located in Armorel  manufactures steel components for buildings is one of the companies who can not fill all the openings they have.

Mcavoy, "Right now if I had 25 skilled people I could put them to work tomorrow." Plant Manager Mcavoy has based his pre-employment test on a 5th grade math skills book he bought at a local retailer. Basic skills that he needs his employees to be able to start work with and he constantly struggles with lack of skills in applicants.

Mcavoy says "65 percent of all the people who come through my door, cannot read a ruler. They can't add fractions, quarters, eighths sixteenths on a rule which is fifth grade math."

Nearly standing in the shadow of Prospect Steel is the Armorel High School, And I wondered could a typical high school senior pass this test? So I went  to the high school and found a student to take the test.

School officials let me give senior Christopher Brown the pre-employment test, it took him about ten minutes and he passed with flying colors. So was it difficult?

Brown," I thought it was pretty easy. The first phase was basic fractions and the second page was interpreting a ruler."

Armorel principal Kevin Reddick feels his students leave with good solid math skills and also many leave with the kind of training needed in local industries.

Reddick, "We have a welding department that's taught here, and that's one of our major trade areas, so yes we do have some trade lines that we do have and are very good."

Armorel schools may be the exception to the rule in the area, Mcavoy told me that in cooperation with Arkansas Northeastern College technical classes for post high school and high school students are available for those seeking better jobs.

Mcavoy "they're going out and taking kids from the 10, 11th and 12th grade take them into the college for half a day, teach them technical courses there, welding, electronics, hydraulics, everything the industry out here needs. That's what they've got started and it looks likes it's going to do real well."

In the meantime, jobs are open, and employers are looking.  Help Wanted!!!