Rockline Industries and Arkansas Tech Career Center, an educational facility located in Russellville and operated by Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, announced a new educational workforce training partnership on Friday, Oct. 11.
Mark Clarke, general plant manager for Rockline Industries’ Russellville location, announced the creation of the Rockline Career Accelerator Program.
"Rockline Industries is excited to partner with the Arkansas Tech Career Center for this important student learning initiative,” said Clarke. “We believe that by providing students with the opportunity to apply the lessons they're learning in the classroom in a hands-on setting, we can inspire the next generation of manufacturing leaders, which is critical to the continued success of American industry."
The educational partnership focuses on training high school students through Arkansas Tech Career Center (ATCC) with the work-ready skills needed in today's manufacturing industry. Rockline's expectations of entry-level operators drive the extensive training program and curriculum. The program has a classroom component housed at ATCC and incorporates paid internships through the Rockline Industries facility in Russellville.
ATCC students in the automation and computer sciences programs attend classes designed to train students in the technical and soft skills imperative to becoming a successful Rockline employee. Students in the program will have the opportunity to interview for positions at Rockline.
This partnership engages select students in the automation and computer sciences programs with specialized training designed to ready the student as an entry-level operator.
ATCC, which serves students from 18 school districts in the Arkansas River Valley, offers students multiple career pathways in support of economic development.
“Arkansas Tech University is excited to partner with Rockline Industries and create an educational training partnership that enhances the region's potential for manufacturing by developing entry-level operators,” said Bruce Sikes, chancellor at ATU-Ozark Campus. “The credentials earned at ATCC prepare graduates for immediate career opportunities and additional education through ATU's campuses in Russellville and Ozark. By reaching students at the high school level through ATCC, ATU delivers on its promise to offer multiple access points to higher education and its responsibility to drive economic growth in the region and the state.”
Pat Edmunds, director of ATCC, was among the speakers at the announcement on Friday.
"Today is much more than the nuts and the bolts of how we cleared all the hurdles to make this idea work,” said Edmunds. “Today represents more than just getting students jobs, building a resume and adding to a skill set that will jumpstart a career for these students. It's more than building a modern skilled workforce for Rockline Industries. Today represents the day the (Arkansas) River Valley stops exporting our talent to help other states and their communities flourish. Today, we start keeping our talent right here, sustaining our communities throughout the river valley, supporting our own business and industry so they can grow their business and create economic development opportunities throughout.”
Friday’s event included a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new line dedicated to ATCC students. Several local and state dignitaries, as well as industry representatives from across the region, attended. The dedication of the line was in conjunction with the ATCC Manufacturing Day. ATCC and Rockline hosted students from across the region, sharing opportunities in manufacturing and showcasing all the skills needed in today's manufacturing industry.
“Manufacturing is the backbone of the U.S. economy,” said Clarke, “and we believe that it is vital that we nurture the raising students who will be the future of American industry. Rockline has over 2,400 associates in the U.S. who every day proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our amazing customers to deliver world-class products to consumers. Our company takes a generational view on our growth and service to our customers, and programs like this one are critical to our ability to fulfill that promise for years to come."
Scott Gutche, senior director of U.S. manufacturing at Walmart, was among the industry representatives on hand.
"Walmart places a priority on products sourced in the U.S. and on the creation of jobs here at home,” said Gutche. “We applaud Rockline and the Arkansas Tech Career Center for launching their career accelerator and for giving these students a first-hand look at the growing world of manufacturing."
For more information on about the Arkansas Tech Career Center, please visit https://www.atu.edu/careercenter/.