WORKFORCE

The Camden Workforce

Camden has a skilled, precision manufacturing workforce trained, certified and seasoned by a long-time cluster of defense companies specializing in munitions, rockets, guided missiles, launchers, and other battle vehicles.

Highland Industrial Park, located approximately one mile from the Camden Regional Airport, has over 1,000 buildings, containing over 5,500,000 square feet of space for manufacturing, testing and warehousing. The park was formerly a U.S. Naval base and now is privately owned and encompasses almost 16,000 acres of land.  Major defense contractors who have located in the park include:

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Esterline Defense
  • General Dynamics
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Raytheon
  • Rheinmetall Defence

Among the products produced at the Highland Industrial Park are the PAC-3, THADD, HIMARS, MLRS and Guided MLRS, Standard Missile-3, Evolved Sea-Sparrow Missile (ESSM), Hydra-70 rockets, Modular Artillery Charges (MACs), pressed warheads, infra-red flares and other countermeasures, practice round munitions, Hellfire/Javelin Tactical Missiles, and tactical rocket motors and warheads for use in Javelin, PAC-3, Tomahawk, Standard Missile, Army TACMS, and GMLRS.

Several smaller businesses have sprung up to support the activities of the Highland Industrial Park, including:

  • AMC, Inc. – Specializing in Precision Machined Products for the Defense Industry
  • B&M Painting – Specializing in Military and Aerospace Coatings and Painting
  • Camden Machine Tool and Die – Specializing in tooling, molds & rings for military and commercial aircrafts
  • Highland Machine Works – Specializing in production line system integration and custom machinery

Arkansas was ranked as 11th in the nation in a CNBC survey for workforce, down one from its 2011 score.

What does the CNBC ranking mean? Here is how they explain it: “Many states point with great pride to the quality and availability of their workers, as well as government-sponsored programs to train them. We rated states based on the education level of their workforce, as well as the numbers of available workers. We also considered union membership. While organized labor contends that a union workforce is a quality workforce, that argument, more often than not, doesn’t resonate with business. We also looked at the relative success of each state’s worker training programs in placing their participants in jobs.”

Workforce Certification

Our defense contractors subscribe to the Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) Program which is an assessment and certification process used nationwide that measures skills that employers believe are critical to job success, including the ability to learn, listen, communicate, work in teams, and solve problems. Camden manufacturers are committed to this program because it saves significant dollars in hiring and training costs and reduces their turnover rates dramatically. Having a CRC is the hiring standard in Camden because our defense companies now require it. The result of having established that standard is a workforce which has largely been pre-certified. The Camden Department of Workforce Services Office is 12th in the State for producing CRCs with 1,526 certificate holders. There are three levels of certification: Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Applicants who have a Career Readiness Certificate have proven that they possess crucial workplace skills and abilities, including interpreting charts and graphs, reading memos and applying mathematics to solve problems.

The core areas or skills assessed are:

  • Reading for Information – Measures the skills used when people read and use written text to do a job. Texts include memos, letters, directions, signs, notices, bulletins, policies, and regulations.
  • Locating Information – Measures the skills people use when they work with workplace graphics such as charts, graphs, tables, forms, flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans, maps, and instrument gauges.
  • Applied Mathematics – Measures skills used when applying mathematical reasoning and problem-solving techniques to work-related problems

Customized training support is provided at two levels:

The Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development is the administering agent for the Calhoun Ouachita Business & Training Consortium through which incumbent employee training is offered chiefly through courses offered to company employees at SAU Tech, a community college located within the Highland Industrial Park. These training programs are subsidized by state funding. SAU Tech works directly with companies to design training packages which fit specific company needs.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has a training division through which workforce training resources are coordinated and commitments made as part of state incentive package agreements.

Training incentives can include:

  1. Reimbursement of instructor wages for pre-employment and/or on-the-job training
  2. Reimbursement for train-the-trainer expenses, including travel, hotel and meals by persons traveling to Arkansas or from Arkansas to another location to be trained
  3. Recruitment advertising for new employees
  4. Secure facilities for accepting applications and interviewing applicants
  5. Reproduction of training manuals
  6. Training facility space

View Workforce Certification flyer here.

Workforce Data

CAMDEN’S MANUFACTURING LABOR SHED

This is a map of Camden’s manufacturing labor shed. Approximately 77% of our manufacturing employees live in our Primary Labor shed shown below in green – easily less than a 25-minute commute. Another 18% of our manufacturing employees live within 40-45 minutes and commute from a Secondary Labor shed shown below in yellow.

Camden is the manufacturing center of South Arkansas. It has a workforce with precision, high technology defense industry skills transferable to high skill, knowledge jobs of any industry. The Camden Workforce Partnership works to provide opportunities to train and retrain, as well to demonstrate work aptitudes through a certification testing process known as the Governor’s Career Ready Certificate.

Workforce Partnership

The shape of a local workforce is probably the highest determinant of success in both  retaining and attracting employers. We are investing in training for skills in short supply and in building a talent bank to support the needs of our expanding companies and help attract new companies to the Camden area. This is the job of the whole community and there is a role for everyone and a stake for all.

Our lead initiative is the Camden Workforce Partnership jointly established by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, SAU Tech and the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development.

A formal Partnership Agreement commits our Workforce Partners to the joint promotion of four workforce training programs, including the Governor’s Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) Program, Career Pathways Program, Adult Education G.E.D. Program, and the SAU Tech Pre-Employability Program. Radio and newspaper advertising are used to raise an awareness of local workforce training opportunities.

The Partnership’s goals are to:

  • Increase the flow of candidates into the workforce,
  • Increase the number of credentialed workforce members,
  • Increase the rate of hires-to-interview, and
  • Lower turnover rates for employers.

We are focused on getting more out of what we have – increasing the rate of participation of our population in our labor pool and adding a qualitative measure to that labor pool through the CRC process and other pre-employability programs offered locally.

Workforce Training

Camden Provides Training Support at Several Levels

Training Consortium The Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development is the administering agent for the Calhoun Ouachita Business & Industry Training Consortium through which incumbent employee training is offered chiefly through courses offered to company employees at SAU Tech, a community college located within the Highland Industrial Park. These training programs are subsidized by state funding. SAU Tech works directly with companies to design training packages which fit specific company needs.

Training Program Assistance The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) has a training division through which workforce training resources are coordinated and commitments made as part of state incentive package agreements. Training incentives can include:

  • Reimbursement of instructor wages for pre-employment and/or on-the-job training
  • Reimbursement for train-the-trainer expenses, including travel, hotel and meals by persons traveling to Arkansas or from Arkansas to another location to be trained
  • Recruitment advertising for new employees
  • Secure facilities for accepting applications and interviewing applicants
  • Reproduction of training manuals
  • Training facility space

Welding Training SAU Tech offers both a 9-credit hour Certificate of Welding Proficiency, with an emphasis on general maintenance in industrial plants, and a nine month, 30-credit hour Welding Academy Certificate which includes a minimum of 24 clock hours per week of intensive training in pipe welding, wire welding processes, structural welding on flat plate steel structures, and welding with aluminum materials. Processes include SMAW (stick), MIG and FLUXCORE (wire), and Hi Frequency TIG (tungsten) welding using carbon, steel, aluminum, stainless steel and other materials. Welding Academy training meets National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and American Welding Society (AWS) standards.

Industrial Maintenance SAU Tech offers an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance as preparation for jobs in industrial facility management. Students take courses in basic machine tools, digital and semiconductor circuits, electricity, blueprint reading and welding.

Engineering Technicians SAU Tech offers an Associate of Applied Science in Engineering Technology which also allows a student to transfer after two years to Southern Arkansas University to complete a bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Students take courses in computer integrated manufacturing, programmable logic controllers, applied physics, basic machine tools, digital and semiconductor circuits, electricity, and blueprint reading.

Aviation Maintenance Training SAU Tech offers two-year Associate degrees in Aviation Maintenance Technology, Electronic Technology, and Manufacturing Technology, as well as technical certificates in Industrial Maintenance, Aviation Maintenance Airframe, Aviation Maintenance Power Plant. SAU Tech has a state-of- the-art robotics lab in computer integrated manufacturing. SAU Tech Aviation Maintenance Technology hangar at the Camden Regional Airport includes a 12,000 sq. ft. work area, two classrooms, a tool room, restrooms for men and women, and an upper level that includes two instructor offices, a student study/library, and storage areas.  Each classroom, the study library, and offices are all equipped with high speed internet access.

There are 118 certificated Aircraft Mechanics (A&P’s) within a 16-county area centered around Camden. Across the state, there are 2,324 certificated A&P’s. Camden’s strong compliment of A&P’s are attributable to the aviation training program operated since 1968 by SAU Tech at the Camden Regional Airport. The SAU Tech Aviation Maintenance Training School (AMTS) was the first to be certified by the FAA in the state of Arkansas.  Since then, hundreds of students have achieved FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certification and have gone to work in aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul positions in such places as Hot Springs (AAR, Triumph), Little Rock (Central Flying Service, Dassault Falcon Jet), Blytheville (Aviation Repair Technologies), Mena (Hampton Enterprises, others), Greenville Texas (L-3 systems), Shreveport Louisiana (ExpressJet Services), and Mobile Alabama (Singapore Technologies MAE). Other locations further away include Houston and Washington state (Boeing), and overseas (Lear Siegler and Lockheed Martin).  The capacity to train locally makes Camden a good source for a sustainable A&P workforce.