by WJ on Sep 21, 2017 at 9:52 AM

As the country’s infrastructure gets rebuilt, it is the local workforce development system that ensures the maximum benefit of local hiring for our community.

The Construction industry already employs thousands of workers in Little Rock. Through partnerships in education and industry, the Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) helps employers continue to find skilled workers for in-demand construction occupations like Construction Crafts (NCCER) and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVAC).

Educational partners in central Arkansas – like the Little Rock School District, Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Job Corps, University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech (UA-PTC), Union & Employer Apprenticeships, and OSHA Certification Providers - provide training to help job seekers attain the required credentials.

Local employers – like Vratsinas Construction Company, CDI Contractors, a wide variety of construction sub-contractors, and local unions - provide employment opportunities for qualified candidates.

To learn more about local workforce development success stories, please visit


by WJ on Sep 6, 2017 at 1:56 PM

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded local workforce development boards are charged with engaging industry to develop career pathways and talent pipelines that ensure economic success for businesses and employees across the country.

Using Labor Market Information (LMI) and other data sources, the Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) has identified three leading industries that offer high demand for skilled workers, high wages, and defined career pathways for employees with nationally recognized credentials:

  • The Healthcare industry includes in-demand occupations like: In-Home Assistant; Personal Care Aid; Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA); Emergency Medical Technician (EMT); Medical and Lab Technician; Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN); and Registered Nurse (RN).
  • In-demand occupations in the Advanced Manufacturing industry include: Production Technician (CPT); Logistics Technician (CLT); Machinist (NIMS); Welder (AWS/CW); Aviatronics Mechanic; and Aeronautics Cabinetry and Upholstery.
  • The Construction industry includes in-demand occupations like: Construction Crafts (NCCER) and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVAC).

Engaged educational and employer partners in the local labor market provide training and potential employment opportunities for qualified candidates with the required credentials.

  • Local partners in the Healthcare sector include: the Little Rock School District; Medlinc; Baptist Health; CHI – St. Vincent; Arkansas Children’s Hospital; the Heart Hospital; and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
  • Partners in Advanced Manufacturing include: the Little Rock School District; Manufacturing Skill Standards Council; University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech (UA-PTC); Dassault Falcon Jet; Caterpillar; the Little Rock Port Authority; AFCO Steel; Lexicon; and Welspun Tubular.
  • Partners in the Construction industry include: the Little Rock School District; Arkansas Construction Education Foundation; University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Job Corps; University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech (UA-PTC); Union & Employer Apprenticeships; OSHA Certification Providers; Vratsinas Construction Company; CDI Contractors a wide variety of construction sub-contractors, and local unions.

To learn more about local workforce development success stories, please visit


by WJ on Aug 30, 2017 at 12:45 PM

The Little Rock Workforce Center (LRWFC) uses a demand driven concept, leveraging strategies like a Business Advisory Team (BAT) to enhance partnerships with local employers.

Business owners and industry leaders direct the decisions of the local workforce development system funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). BAT members make operational decisions regarding areas of focus in target industries and career pathways.

The members of the BAT also ensure that an Employer Toolbox is given to employers on initial contact.  This toolbox provides written information on all services available at the local Workforce Center through pamphlets, brochures, and business cards. The toolbox also educates employers on available incentives when hiring targeted populations through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program, Federal Bonding programs, and On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs.

BAT Ambassadors coordinate job fairs and industry-specific events where employers can recruit and conduct on-site interviews at no cost to employers and job seekers. BAT hosts work closely with the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and other economic and community development organizations to establish strong partnerships.  BAT members attend business after-hour networking events and stay connected with national and state Human Resource Associations.

The BAT was created in 2012, consisting of business service representatives from LRWFC partner agencies. Since then, the team has expanded its business outreach to serve the needs of local employers on a customized basis.

To learn more about local workforce development success stories, please visit


by WJ on Jul 7, 2017 at 12:36 PM

The Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) and Human Resource Management Association (HRMA) invite employers in Arkansas to attend an exciting upcoming workforce development event:


Advanced Manufacturing For employers

Thursday, July 27, 2017

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

 $45 each

(Lunch is included)

Little Rock Port Authority

10600 Industrial Harbor Road

Little Rock, AR 72206



9:30 - 10:00           REGISTRATION

10:00 - 10:15           Welcome

                                Bryan Day

                                Little Rock Port Authority

10:15 -10:30            What the MSSC Program Will Do for Arkanas’ Economy

                                W.J. Monagle

                               Workforce Centers

10:30 - 11:00          Implementation & Success of the MSSC Program

                               Chris Clark

                               Georgia Pacific

11:00 - 11:30           Dick Burchett

                               UA Pulaski Tech

11:30 -  12:00          LUNCH                                                        

12:00 -    2:00          Roundtable Discussion

2:00                         Adjoun


The event is sponsored by:

For more information and registration form, please click here:  

Questions?  Call the HRMA Office at (501) 372-0929.


by WJ on Jun 19, 2017 at 4:35 PM

The host of Speak Up Arkansas, Paul Kelly, recently highlighted the topic of workforce development as part of his regular broadcast on  KABF 88.3 FM, “The Voice of the People.” Speak Up Arkansas is underwritten by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. The talk radio show is dedicated to covering issues like health care, education, juvenile justice, the state budget, and family and economic security.

The Executive Director of the Little Rock Workforce Development Board, W. J. Monagle, participated in a panel discussion  with three other local workforce development leaders: Randy Zook, President and CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce; Roger Rich, Superintendent of Southside Schools; and Cindy Varner, Vice President of Workforce Development with Goodwill of Arkansas.

Panel members discussed economic trends that affect workforce development, programs that address the needs of job seekers and employers, and community partnerships that drive success in vocational training and sustainable employment.

Economic Trends

Less than 40 years ago, nearly 75% of jobs in the United States could be filled by workers with no more than a high school education in industries like manufacturing, farming, mining, transportation, and construction. By 2022, the U. S. will lack 11 million workers with postsecondary degrees, certificates, or credentials to meet job demands. Arkansas has significant workforce development needs to assist adults over 25 with no college degree, especially as aging workers retire.

Program “Success Stories”

The Little Rock Workforce Development Board coordinates programs for adults, youth and dislocated workers through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as well grant-funded programs like YouthBuild, which helps at risk youth obtain a G. E. D. and vocation training. Southside Schools sponsors Project Future Story, which exposes students to career possibilities that match their interests from “pre-K through career.” Goodwill of Arkansas is launching a charter school for adults without a high school diploma in addition to regular career center offerings like resume writing and interview preparation.

Community Partnerships

Partnerships across local communities are required to help individuals overcome barriers to find and sustain employment. A viable network of employment and job-driven training programs includes roles for business, government, non-profits, and other community entities to promote economic sustainability.

To listen to the radio broadcast in its entirety, you may download the mp3 file by clicking here:  Speak Up Arkansas.mp3



by WJ on Feb 1, 2017 at 5:24 PM

Little Rock residents can receive free tax return assistance at this annual event, which takes place the day before the Super Bowl.

Super Saturday is scheduled from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds Arts and Crafts Building. While reservations are not required, those wishing to secure a time may call 501-682-0228.

Participants can also check to see whether they qualify for the Earned Income Tax credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is for low- to moderate-income workers. According to the IRS, four out of five eligible workers, self-employed people, and farmers claim and receive their Earned Income Tax Credit. This year, married couples with incomes of $53,505 or less from wages, self-employment or farming might qualify for the EITC. Many workers may also qualify for other tax credits. 

“So many residents qualify who may not even know it,” Mayor Mark Stodola said. “It’s worth it to find out, because the EITC helps working families and boosts economic development by injecting those funds back into our community.”

Organizations like the City of Little Rock, the Arkansas Workforce Development Board, Entergy Arkansas, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Central Arkansas Development Council work as part of the EITC Coalition to empower families and grow our communities. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has recognized Entergy's Super Tax Day initiative as the best economic empowerment program in the country.”

The theme for this year’s Super Saturday is the resurgence of refund anticipation loans, which are interest bearing loans and not a quicker way of receiving refunds from the IRS.

To help preparers accurately determine EITC eligibility and prepare returns, individuals should bring the following items, and both spouses must be present to sign joint returns:

  • Photo proof of identification
  • Social Security cards for themselves, their spouse and all dependents claimed
  • All income statements including forms W-2 and 1099, Social Security, unemployment, and other statements such as pensions, stocks, interest and any documents showing taxes withheld. Self-employed participants will need records of all their income
  • All records of expenses including tuition, mortgage interest or real state taxes. Self-employed participants will need records of all their expenses
  • Copies of their prior year federal and state returns, if available
  • Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit of their refunds
  • Dependent child care information, including name and addresses of those who were paid for the services, including caretaker’s Social Security Number or other tax identification number.

by WJ on Jan 25, 2017 at 11:20 AM

On Thursday, February 2, 2017 the Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) and Human Resource Management Association of Arkansas (HRMA) will present a luncheon and workshop entitled “Workforce Readiness: Advanced Manufacturing.” Please make plans to attend this informative and exciting event!

Date, Time, and Location:

On February 2, 2017 the  event runs from 9:00 a.m. 11:30 p.m. with the luncheon held from 11:30 a.m. 1:00 p.m. The event will take place at Next Level Events, Genesis Room 3, 1400 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72201.

Workshop Overview

The technology-intensive advanced manufacturing jobs of the 21st century require targeted production and logistics skills and knowledge. Companies must compete for in-demand employees with the credentials and skills of the “Industrial Athlete of the Future.”

The Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) offers an industry-led, training, assessment, and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production and material handling workers. The two MSSC Systems are based upon industry-defined and federally endorsed national standards and provide individuals an opportunity to demonstrate acquired skills in advanced manufacturing roles.

PACE Industries, in Harrison, Arkansas, is one company that has very successfully implemented this program to create a pipeline of advanced manufacturing talent. The program addresses core technical competencies of higher skilled production workers in all sectors of manufacturing. Credentials are awarded to individuals who pass any of the four modules based on the scores provided for the secondary market.

Attendees will learn:

How this program works

How to implement a program

Who and what companies can benefit from this program

How we can expect education and business to change in Arkansas


Presenters include:

Ethan Robinson, Workforce Coordinator at Pace Industries

Neil Reddy, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council

The Honorable Shane Broadway, Vice-President for University Relations for the Arkansas State University System

Registration and Fees

Fees (including all materials) are $45 for the Seminar & Lunch. Fees for the Luncheon Program Only are HRMA Members: $22 and Guests: $25.

Please include the Registration form from the Workforce  Readiness: Advanced  Manufacturing brochure with your payment: Workforce Readiness Trifold.pdf (498.22 kb)




by WJ on Oct 12, 2016 at 11:41 AM

On October 11, 2016 the Little Rock Workforce Development Board’s Executive Director, W. J. Monagle, spoke to members of the Arkansas Workforce Development Boardregarding “business-driven” workforce centers and development areas. His remarks are provided in full below:

Good Morning Board Members and Special Guests,

It is my honor to speak to you here in the heart of Goodwill Industries of AR where my local board member and vice-chair Brian Itzkowtiz has so successfully modeled a unique business enterprise based upon non-profit vision and objectives not only in Little Rock but across the entire state of Arkansas. In the same spirit of being “business–driven” I’d like to share a couple of additional perspectives on how your workforce centers and development areas directly impact the bottom line of business throughout our state.

And I don’t mean in our traditional role of connecting qualified applicants with employers that have good jobs – although that is still our primary concern.

In late August of this year, I was asked by Entergy Arkansas to travel to New Orleans and present at a four-state conference on the success of our Earned Income Tax Credit awareness program and our signature event “Super Saturday”, where people get free tax preparation and access to a host of other benefits. It seemed little ol’ Little Rock was reaching far more numbers than cities such as Jackson, MS; New Orleans, LA; and many places in Southeast Texas – attracting more than 300 families at last year’s event alone. They wanted to know our secrets; the big one is that we have been working together for 14 years with great partners like the AARP, Central AR Development Council, the City of Little Rock, and, Yes, the IRS. The EITC Campaign as we like to call it, includes many facets based upon building financial security and assets for moderate and low-income working families. Since Entergy became our corporate sponsor ten years ago, it has increased the level of outreach tremendously. Of course, I knew that this corporate citizenship was business-based, but I had no idea to what extent until I heard one of their executives explain that “when 40% of your customers live just above or below poverty, it permeates throughout your entire business plan.” In 2014 in Arkansas, 297,000 EITC claims were filed by Arkansas working families for a total refund to the state of over $774M. Almost $60M comes back to my City of Little Rock – and not just that year, but every year.

Elizabeth Brister is Entergy’s Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, and in her words:

“This is a big job and no one group can do it alone.  First and foremost our partners are our community-based grantees.  They know the local lay of the land.  They know community needs and assets.  They know the history of what has been tried and worked or failed.  We rely tremendously on them.  And we think of this as more than a traditional grantee-grantor relationship.  We want to be in the thick of it with them in their local areas.  So we work in close collaboration with our community partners to figure out how our Entergy-originated efforts and connections can be of use to the broader community.”

And Indeed Entergy has worked in the thick of it with us and has emerged as a corporate stand-out, winning the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2014 Citizen Award for best economic empowerment program, as well as being has been honored by the national Points of Light Foundation as one of the top 50 most civic minded corporations in America in 2016.

Another initiative that Entergy strongly supports is LIHEAP or Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funded by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and operated in Arkansas through the 16 Community Action Agencies with oversight provided by ADHS. The community action agency in my area is the Central AR Development Council or CADC and is co-located at our center in Little Rock. To my colleagues, if you have not already established a relationship with your local community action agency, I encourage you to reach out to them; they are a tremendous resource here in AR.

Each summer and winter, the CADC opens its LIHEAP program in our center with a goal to assist utility customers who are struggling to pay their bill. $500 or $700 is the maximum that can be paid, but most assistance averages in the $150-200 range. They limit the number of customers they can see to 120 per day, 3 days per week, for 2-3 months – or until the money runs out. For many low-income customers, this keeps the heat on in the winter, or the cool running in the summer when your utility bills tend to get the most out of control.  In 2016, the Arkansas LIHEAP appropriation was just shy of $28M and served more than 60,000 households. The figures are not out yet for 2016, but historically Entergy receives something less than half of those funds (so, Entergy’s bottom line is improved by about $14M.) The other $14M of LIHEAP is distributed to more than 100 other electric companies and cooperatives, municipal utility companies, as well as gas, oil and propane companies throughout the state. Not just this year, but every year.

Again in the words of Entergy’s Ms. Brister:

“Our greatest need is the development of other partners who are interested in lifting families out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.  The … programs … put real dollars back in our local economies.  Who could be against this?  Our hope is to lead by example, inspiring more private and corporate foundations, especially in the financial sector, to join us in the effort to provide human and financial capital toward this vital initiative.”

It seems that what we hear a lot these days is that “government would be better if it were run more like a business”, and we subscribe to that philosophy entirely by producing a quality product as efficiently as possible with the resources available to us. And we do this every year, not just this year. This is evidenced by our area meeting nine of nine common measures not just this year – but for three years. It is a difficult task that all of us are charged with doing each day for our customers: we try to get them jobs with the highest wages possible while at the same time charged with engaging employers that want to pay the least wages that the market will bear. I don’t say that accusatorily, but we all need to acknowledge that that is the ironic reality, and that we will be measured by how successfully we accomplish both of those challenges. The fortunate thing is that some businesses – like Entergy – are saying not only to themselves but demonstrating to the greater world: “Business would be better if it were run more like a social service agency.”


Thank you.


by WJ on Aug 5, 2016 at 8:43 AM

The Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) is conducting site visits at multiple locations in Little Rock to exchange information with community partners. As part  of  the On-Site On-Target Workshop Series, these community visits represent critical input  for the LRWDB’s Local Transitional Plan under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).

On May 12, LRWDB members toured the project to renovate the Robinson Auditorium and Performing Arts Center. The tour and demonstration of the BIM (Building Information Modeling) used to coordinate the work, conducted by CDI Contractors, provided insight into what the future looks like for the construction industry in Central Arkansas and which occupations will be in demand. The LRWDB’s Executive Director, W. J. Monagle, noted that the “project showcases the advanced architectural and engineering technology required to renovate a Little Rock landmark that will continue to serve as an asset to this community for decades to come.” Mr. Monagle also observed that upcoming retirement of “highly skilled tradespeople” represents a talent gap for the metropolitan area.

The next community visit and reciprocal tour will be held at the Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind on August 18.

These workshops will continue  to take place at various locations of interest in-between the regular quarterly meetings of the board, with the stated desire to keep board members involved, excited, and engaged in the strategic planning process.


by WJ on Jul 21, 2016 at 5:24 PM

The Little Rock Workforce Development Board (LRWDB) has coordinated and participated in multiple planning activities to move the local Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Transition forward:

June 28: The LRWDB Executive Director, W. J. Monagle, and WIOA Transition Consultant conducted community stakeholder interviews with representatives of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Arkansas Research Center.

July 7: The Little Rock Workforce Center (LRWFC) hosted the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services (ADWS) Director’s meeting at which Local Area Administrators were introduced to the Sector Strategy Committee of the WIOA Roundtable. The LRWFC also hosted the Area Administrators Local Plan task force, which is charged with developing and producing plans by December 31, 2016.

July 8: The LRWDB Executive Director and several board members attended a presentation, conducted by the National Governor’s Association and hosted by the ADWS, to discuss federal apprenticeship grants and efforts to expand them.

Additional updates will be available as the exciting work associated with the WIOA Transition continues!