Entergy Arkansas, ADE partner for online Career and Technical Education courses

Education

Lamar Elementary School principal Erin Honeycutt sets up a “Zoom” class for first through fifth graders to learn art from Holly Triplett in Meridian, Miss., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The COVID-19 and coronavirus has forced area schools to close and use technology for online teaching and learning. At this time Lamar is closed until April 13th and will then re-evaluate as to continue their closure. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Entergy Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education are making a pathway toward success for students.

With remote learning becoming more important than ever, representatives from Entergy Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education announced today a $482,000 grant that will go toward developing 20 new Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that will be available to high school students and adults this next fall.

“In addition to affordable and reliable electricity, we need a good business environment, good transportation and qualified employees to help businesses grow if we want our state and communities to be successful,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “To that end, Entergy Arkansas is proud to support these efforts with nearly a half a million dollars from the Entergy Charitable Foundation.” 

In Arkansas, most high school students are enrolled in one or more CTE programs of study, which are designed to prepare them for college and career after graduation.

“We are excited to partner with Entergy Arkansas to offer additional CTE courses to students around the state,” said Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Johnny Key. “CTE is essential, as it provides high school students the opportunity to build workforce skills that will enhance learning and employability. Fifty three percent of CTE students earn a median income of $55,000 or higher after graduation, and 68 percent of students who complete a CTE program of study earn a post-secondary credential. These additional opportunities will expand the workforce pipeline to address critical economic development needs.”

With schools closing last spring due to COVID-19, CTE students experienced a loss of access to in-person instructions and hands-on experience, which potentially created a gap in the pipeline of workers.  As a result, the Department of Education began working with $300,000 in CARES Act funds to develop a plan toward online and blended learning with its CTE Playbook, a template for 80 classes in multiple areas such as business and marketing, agriculture technology, STEM, and welding

“Technology has advanced tremendously in the last few years while Arkansas competes every day in recruiting for new and expanding business,” said Danny Games, director for Entergy Arkansas Business and Economic Development. “These companies require an educated and skilled workforce that can satisfy their needs and, in turn, provide higher-skilled and higher-paying jobs. These CTE courses should benefit students and their potential employers for years to come.”

The 20 new trade and industry CTE courses will become available to high school students in July of 2021, while other CTW courses will be made available over the next two years. The State Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Office of Skills Development will provide additional consultation to reflect business and industry needs.

 “I am also glad to announce that a separate portal will be built to make these CTE courses available to persons already in the workplace who are looking to learn new skills and advance their careers,” Landreaux said. “Our message is this – if you missed out on opportunities like this in high school, a little time and energy on nights and weekends now can mean more opportunities for advancement and a better-paying job in the future.”

Employer and employees will have access to the 20 new courses at a nominal cost beginning fall of 2021.

“We appreciate Secretary Johnny Key and the Department of Education for their support of this initiative for adult learners, as well,” Landreaux concluded.

The CTE grant is made possible by Entergy Arkansas and the Entergy Charitable Foundation as part of $1.13 million dollars Entergy has invested or committed in Arkansas over the past five years to develop the state’s workforce and support its customers and communities.

Other funding investments and commitments include $50,000 to the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Be Pro, Be Proud initiative; $350,000 for the Academies of Central Arkansas; and $250,000 for the Jobs for Arkansas Graduates high school programs across the state. The Arkansas grants are part of an overall Entergy initiative to provide $5 million across its four-state utility service area.

For more information about the CTE Playbook and related coursework, visit http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/special-projects/statewide-playbook.

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