Education & Workforce
When it comes to education, Clarksville and the region earn straight A’s. Although small compared to major metropolitan areas, the region has a lot to choose from regarding educational institutions. The area offers all three facets of higher-ed learning; a four-year public regional institution, a four-year private liberal arts institution, a two-year Career Tech institution and a Career Center offering high school students a head start on their career track. As a result the labor shed is well prepared to meet the needs of industry in the 21st Century. Approximately 33% of residents in Johnson County hold an Associate, Bachelor or Graduate degree or have attended some college classes.
University of the Ozarks
The University of the Ozarks is a private four-year liberal arts college which has an enrollment of just under 600 students and is located in Clarksville. The University offers Bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 program areas of study including accounting, business, management, economics, marketing, and communications.
- The oldest university in the state of Arkansas - established in 1834
- Has consistently been rated among the top institutions of higher education in the region by publications and surveys such as U.S. News & World Report, National Survey of Student Engagement, and The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For
- More than 60 majors, minors and pre-professional programs
- The first institution of higher education to admit women and the first predominately white university in the state to graduate an African-American
- In 1998 received the largest single monetary donation ever made to a private university in Arkansas - $39.5 million from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation
Arkansas Tech University
- Arkansas Tech University is a fully-accredited, four-year institution located in Russellville
- The 3rd largest University in the state of Arkansas
- Offers more than 50 majors including Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Information Systems and various Business specialties
- One of the fastest growing universities in the state – Fall 2014 was the 16th consecutive year of record enrollment
- Many local companies take advantage of the Professional Development Institute, which offers customized training for new and existing employees
- Approximate enrollment of more than 9,000
Arkansas Tech at Ozark
- Located in Ozark, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus is the regional provider for technical and career education
- Offers 11 associate degrees and 15 technical certificates with a variety of industry specific options such as Supply Chain Management, Computer Information Systems, Welding, Industrial Control Systems and Nursing
- Also offers certificates of proficiency and general education coursework
- Provides custom training to local industries with specific needs – often times these services are provided through grants which benefit the industry partner
- Current enrollment of approximately 2,200
Career Center at Arkansas Tech
The Career Center draws its 600-plus student enrollment from 11 area high schools in Pope, Yell and Johnson counties and is located in Russellville
Offers programs in 10 career and technical areas, including Computer Engineering, Drafting Technology/Engineering and Metal Fabrication
Clarksville, Lamar and Scranton school districts consistently appear on the US News & World Report’s “Best High School” in the nation rankings.
The vast majority of area schools perform at or better than the state and national average in key categories:
The Clarksville School District was the first school system in the state of Arkansas (2011) to provide students with netbook computers to be used both at home and in the classroom. Today even the elementary students are utilizing I-Pads and take home netbooks.
Clarksville High School
The current unemployment rate for Johnson County is 4.7%.
Through an analysis of data examined in a 2009 strategic plan by Boyette Strategic Advisors, it was determined that Clarksville consistently draws its workforce from a seven-county area that includes Johnson, Franklin, Logan, Madison, Newton, Pope and Yell counties. These seven counties have a combined population of 175,000+.
Johnson - 25,540; Newton - 8,330; Franklin - 18,125; Pope - 61,754; Logan - 22,353; Yell - 22,185; Madison - 15,717
To access the full Laborshed Analysis click HERE.
Clarksville is strategically located in the center of a seven-county regional labor shed. And because many of the surrounding communities are more rural and have fewer employment options, Clarksville represents more diverse opportunities that attract workers. Both Johnson and Pope counties, the two largest counties in the labor shed, have been steadily growing in population since 2000. Johnson County has experienced an increase of 14.7% during this time frame while Pope County has experienced a 16.4% increase. And the trend is still ongoing. In a recent article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, it was reported that only 20 of the 75 counties in the state grew in population between 2013 and 2014. While most of the growth is concentrated in larger metropolitan areas, Johnson County is one of the counties that continues to make positive gains.
The community’s central location and quality of life, combined with the presence of University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, add to the availability and continued in-migration of the area’s workforce.
Clarksville is strategically located in the center of the seven-county region labor shed. The total population consists of 174,004, and because many of the surrounding communities are more rural and have fewer employment options, Clarksville represents more diverse opportunities that attract workers.
Right to Work State
Arkansas is a Right to Work state, which leades to a more positive labor-management atmosphere. The state reports a 4.7% union membership rate which is the 6th lowest in the U.S..
One of the primary functions of the Clarksville Regional Economic Development Organization (CREDO) is to address the needs of area employers regarding the area's workforce quality. The area is blessed to have an educational institution such as Arkansas Tech-Ozark as a workforce partner that provides customized training for local businesses as well as a pipeline of graduates in various technical fields. This allows industries in the area to find the employees with the types of skills required in today's market place or offer existing workers the necessary training to match their sophisticated and evolving manufacturing processes.
ATU-Ozark currently offers 11 associate degrees and 15 technical certificates and can add additional programs as the needs of the area employers change and grow. ATU-Ozark is the premier option for career technical education in the region and offer some options that aren't available at many two-year schools.
The state of Arkansas offers valuable opportunities for workforce training programs as well. The state's Economic Development Commission (AEDC) offers the Existing Workforce Training Program and the Business and Industry Training Program where individual companies are eligible for training grants to meet specific and unique training needs.
Clarksville is a very economic diverse community with a wide mix of large employers, a four-year liberal arts college, and a regional hospital all having substantial contributions to the local economy's needs and composition. The labor shed offers diverse skills sets and employment opportunities, with the largest sector being manufacturing (XX%), and healthcare, education, retail and agriculture also well represented.
Top Industry Employers
Baldor Electric Motors
Clarksville Shoe Company
Bright Harvest Sweet Potato
Employers are generally very satisfied with the quality of their workforce. In January of 2014, Hanesbrands announced a 120 job expansion project at their Clarksville faclity; a 27% addition to their existing employee count. Additionally in the aforementioned Boyette study, a cross-section of Johnson County employers were surveyed to gauge their satisfaction related to the area workforce. 46 employers responded to the 43 question survey. 75.7% of employers stated they were either “satisfied or very satisfied” with the employees they hire in the Johnson County market. Only 6.1 percent of respondents stated they were “dissatisfied”. Many human resource managers claim that because of the agricultural history of the region and its rural character that the work ethic is very strong despite diverse employment sectors.