Arkansas Business: Skilled worker shortage expected in Arkansas

    7:39 AM, Apr 17, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Strong housing and earnings reports helped stocks rebound from their worst day of the year.

    The Dow up 1.1 percent on Tuesday, winning back more than half of the 265 points it lost on Monday. The S&P logged its second-best day of the year.

    All this as U.S. home construction topped 1 million last month, the highest level since June 2008. Robust earnings from companies like Coca-Cola also pushed the market higher.

    Skilled worker shortage expected in Arkansas

    Here in Arkansas, leaders of the state's construction industry telling Arkansas Business that they expect shortages in the near future of workers in skilled trades.

    That includes electricians, plumbers and masons.

    This, as the economy rebounds and construction demand picks up.

    Bill Hannah, CEO of Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway, said the shortage has existed for some time even with the economic downturn, and that he expects that as the economy improves, the industry will be back to where it was in 2006 with shortages in a larger number of skilled crafts.

    Hannah also says that an emphasis on a college education and white-collar jobs is preventing students from considering careers in skilled trades.

    Others say the industry needs to step up efforts to tout the selling points of both blue-collar and white-collar opportunities in construction.

    Final approval given for steel mill financing

    And speaking of construction, Arkansas lawmakers yesterday gave final approval to $125 million in financing and tax breaks for the Big River Steel plant set for Osceola in Mississippi County.

    By an 81-9 vote, House lawmakers passed a Senate-approved budget bill to fund Gov. Mike Beebe's proposal to help Big River Steel with construction costs of its $1.1 billion plant.

    That company promising to create at least 525 permanent jobs with an average annual wage of at least $75,000 -- twice the state's average.

    Big River Steel has said it wants to close the deal in the third quarter of this year.

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