This morning (Sept. 5) at the Arkansas Statehouse Convention Center, the Arkansas Be Pro Be Proud Initiative unveiled its second mobile workshop. Set inside of a 78-foot double-wide tractor trailer, the Be Pro Be Proud organization hopes to use the new mobile workshop as a proving ground for high schoolers who have an aptitude for work in the trades.
Among the speakers at the event were Governor Asa Hutchinson, Senator John Boozman and Scott Moore, the chief administrative officer of Union Pacific, one of the largest contributors to the Initiative.
Moore says that industries have changed to adapt to technological innovations. “Be Pro Be Proud really spoke to us because it goes all across Arkansas to teach and expose kids to trade skills,” he says. “Obviously the work is still physical, our locomotive engineers still use throttles and gauges, but so much is run on computers at every level of industry. That’s why this sort of educational program [Be Pro Be Proud] is so important for the future of the trade economy.”
Governor Hutchinson spoke to the importance of promoting trade work as a viable alternative to a traditional college or university degree. “We need to understand that not everybody is going to college. Not everybody needs a four-year degree, and they need to see they can have options with meaning, dignity and honor, that they can provide for their families and get ahead in life.”
The original Be Pro Mobile Workshop has toured since the initiative’s inception in 2016. In that time, it has visited over 220 cities and provided a hands-on introduction to the trades to over 50,000 visitors. The new mobile workshop hugely expands on its predecessor. Within its 1,000 square feet of onboard space, the new mobile workshop holds 13 highly interactive work stations, including backhoe and over-the-road trucking simulators. These simulators provide an immersive, interesting introduction to various professions, including welding, computer programming, locomotive engineering, plumbing and HVAC technology.
The new Be Pro Be Proud Mobile Workshop is set to begin touring immediately, with an initial focus on schools in rural and underserved areas.