The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce's "Be Pro Be Proud" workforce development initiative has officially launched in North Carolina, the program's fourth state.
The program's two mobile workshops, which offer middle and high school students hands-on experience with skilled professions, began traveling the state earlier this month. The North Carolina Home Builders Educational & Charitable Foundation signed a contract with the North Carolina Department of Labor in February to administer the program, "Be Pro Be Proud NC."
Different work stations inside the mobile workshops utilize virtual reality technology to allow students to experience what it’s like to use an excavator, practice welding, drive a tractor trailer and work in construction, among other activities. The mobile workshops were constructed by SPEVCO, a Winston-Salem-based company.
“We are excited for this program to change the landscape of our workforce development in North Carolina,” Tim Minton, executive vice president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association, said in a news release. “The future of technical professions in North Carolina relies on our youth and investing in their future is of the utmost importance to us.”
"Be Pro Be Proud" also operates in Georgia and South Carolina.
In Arkansas, the program has made more than 837 stops impacting 138,016 students at schools, two-year colleges, community events, job fairs and businesses since it started in 2016. The program this year received a $1.45 million state grant to fund construction of a second mobile workshop. Officials said a second mobile workshop was needed because of the popularity of the first.
Randy Zook, president & CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, said earlier this year that "Be Pro Be Proud" would also expand to Tennessee.