Crawford County students are being recruited to take part in a basic work skills training pilot program that begins Jan. 3.

Crawford County Adult Education Center staff is looking for participants in the basic skills program, the first of its kind in Arkansas, said Debbie Faubus-Kendrick, Crawford County Adult Education Center director.

“From my discussions with area business and industry leaders, skilled trades are dying,” Faubus-Kendrick said. “People are leaving or retiring, and there’s no one to replace them.”

Recruit targets are adults searching for new job opportunities and students from area high schools that currently are not college bound, Faubus-Kendrick said.

“Hopefully this program is going to be a bridge for people to have choices, to go to college, get an apprenticeship or go to work,” Faubus-Kendrick said.

Participants also will get a chance to network with area business leaders who will speak at some of the basic skills classes, she said.

Classes will begin Jan. 3 for students ages 16 to 24 and will be held Monday-Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adult classes will begin later in the year and be held Tuesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

CCAEC received a $16,000 matching grant for the program from the Arkansas Office of Skills Development with assistance from State Rep. Charlotte Douglas, Faubus-Kendrick said.

Money from the grant will cover program curriculum for 32 participants, Faubus-Kendrick said. She is hoping to enroll 16 participants in each student and adult program, she said.

School counselors will provide names of students who might be interested in recruitment, Faubus-Kendrick said.

Participants will study National Center for Construction Education Research standardized construction and maintenance curriculum.

Included in the curriculum is basic and introductory classes in safety, construction math and drawings, hand and power tools, rigging, communication, employable skills, and material handling.

During safety courses, participants also will have an opportunity to get Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certified, Faubus-Kendrick said.

Classes will last about 13 weeks. A 70-hour minimum is required to complete the course.

Northwest Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith will accept the complete course for college credit, Faubus-Kendrick said.

Participants must take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE), a drug test, fill out an application, interview, attend orientation and complete a digital literacy assessment. They also will be randomly drug tested, Faubus-Kendrick said.

If the basic skill program goes well in Crawford County, it is expected to expand to other areas of the state, Faubus-Kendrick said.