ATU-Ozark National Award Presentation Scheduled

Arkansas Tech University-Ozark and Green Bay Packaging, Arkansas Kraft Division will receive the 2020 National Council of Workforce Education Noncredit Exemplary Program Award during the 2021 NCWE Conference in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

Bruce Sikes, ATU-Ozark chancellor, and Justin Smith, ATU-Ozark chief business and community outreach officer, will accept the award on behalf of ATU-Ozark Campus and Green Bay Packaging. The presentation was delayed one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Green Bay Packaging in Morrilton is a valued member of our economy and their service throughout the manufacturing community is without an educational comparison in the State of Arkansas,” said Sikes. “Arkansas Tech-Ozark Campus recognizes the commitment of the leadership at Green Bay Packaging to its employees and training opportunities enjoyed by other manufacturers throughout our state. ATU-Ozark is humbled to be a partner with Green Bay Packaging in educating a well-trained manufacturing workforce.”

The award recognizes a collaboration that has provided more than 1,000 employees from more than 60 Arkansas companies with training needed to help drive the state’s economy.

“The training center fills one of the state’s largest workforce and economic skills gaps, which is that of hands-on technical skills,” said Smith. “Several maintenance positions go unfilled simply because employers cannot find skilled electrical and mechanical technicians.”

That began to change in 2008 when Green Bay Packaging envisioned converting a shuttered Levi’s manufacturing plant in Morrilton into a workforce education facility. Funding from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, and an investment from Green Bay Packaging, helped turn that vision to reality.

The final piece of the puzzle was identifying a higher education partner with the tools and capacity to help implement the training. ATU-Ozark proved to be the right fit.

“When we conceptualized this training program over 10 years ago, it was in an effort to address the growing skills gap within our local workforce,” said William Cone, vice president and general manager at Arkansas Kraft Division. “With the help of ATU-Ozark we were able to expand our vision to support industrial training for incumbent workers throughout the state. We are extremely proud of our workforce here at the Arkansas Kraft Division and this training collaboration has contributed significantly to the development and continued growth of many highly-skilled electrical and mechanical maintenance technicians, both for Green Bay Packaging as well as for many other companies throughout Arkansas. These investments have had a positive impact on Green Bay Packaging and have supported economic growth throughout the state.

“We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with ATU-Ozark and for the support of the State of Arkansas,” continued Cone. “We are deeply honored to be recognized by the National Council for Workforce Education for our combined efforts.”

ATU-Ozark recruits the outside companies that utilize the training center, handles registrations, supports curriculum development, orders instructional material, markets the training center and serves as the sole higher educational partner in the training. Green Bay Packaging, which owns most of the equipment and building, places two of its highly skilled employees in the role of instructor.

“It is an outstanding honor to be recognized by NCWE as its exemplary workforce program award winner for non-credit training,” said Smith. “Our partnership with Green Bay Packaging is one that is hard to replicate among higher education and private industry, but we put forth the effort because of the value it brings to the workforce needs of industries across the state of Arkansas.”

Electrical courses taught at the Green Bay Packaging training center include Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) Level 1/Intro, PLC Level 2, Basic Electricity/Electronics, Intermediate Electrical/Basic AC Control Equipment, Electrical Troubleshooting, Batteries and DC Circuits, Advanced Electrical/Transformers and AC Circuits, Three-Phase Systems, Reading Technical Diagrams and Electrical Measuring Instruments.

The facility offers mechanical courses in Bearings and Lubrication, Maintenance of Mechanical Drives, Precision/Laser Alignment, Introduction to Hydraulics, Pump Systems, Introduction to Blueprint Reading, Mechanical Layout, Machine Shop Practices and Millwright Practices.

Certain days each week are designated for the training of Green Bay Packaging employees. Other days are reserved for providing the training to additional industry partners around the state.

“ATU-Ozark and Green Bay Packaging established this partnership and training center to assist both Green Bay employees and those of other companies, and to keep it very affordable for area industry to send their workers,” said Smith. “This accessibility and quality training keep companies coming back year after year.”

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