More companies today are providing employees with opportunities to improve their skills and enhance their career development, an initiative that also provides employers with a trained workforce that can grow with the business.
It's good for the employee: more training, better pay and an edge on advancing in the organization. Employers benefit by strengthening employee satisfaction and building a pipeline of workers ready to step into more technical jobs or management roles.
Little Rock construction company Lexicon Inc. is upping its game with a workforce-development and training tool to improve the skills of workers and enhance retention efforts. Lex U training is paid for by Lexicon and available to employees at all levels and in every subsidiary and division run by the company.
"In today's world the number one problem we have, as well as most other construction companies, plain and simple is finding and maintaining talent," says Patrick Schueck, chief executive officer. "We believe from the leadership perspective that we have to be at the top of our game in order to maintain that talent and bring in new talent to take us to the next level."
It's another benefit that helps make Lexicon an employer of choice, Schueck said. The company opened an on-site health clinic for employees two years ago.
Lexicon wanted to establish a personalized program allowing employees to set and navigate their career course with options to pursue training for a management or professional track as well as additional skills training. "This was developed so our team members could develop careers paths to success for themselves and their families," Schueck said.
Lex U includes on-the-job, classroom and online training programs that can be completed at pre-arranged and regularly scheduled times or at the employee's convenience. The program offers three training curricula depending on the employee's position -- professional, management and trades.
Worker shortages have plagued Arkansas for several years and strengthening the pipeline of prepared workers is a top priority for state officials, led by Chief Workforce Officer Mike Rogers, appointed by the governor in February to rejuvenate skills training and workforce development statewide by improving the connection between employees, employers and training programs. Lex U is an example of an effective approach, Rogers said.
"Lexicon is making strides in upskilling their workforce," Rogers said of the company's training program. "Partnerships like these are invaluable for developing talent and retention. Adding professional and technical value to their teams will pay huge long-term dividends in their sustainability of productivity. I applaud the recognition and commitment to their employees and customers."
Arkansas had 97,000 job openings at the end of May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the state's labor force participation rate remained stagnant at 57.7% from May of 2022. That is well below the U.S. rate of 62.6% in May and that improved from 62.2% from a year ago. Only five states -- Alabama, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina and West Virginia -- had worse labor-force participation than Arkansas.
In essence, the statistics show that jobs are plentiful in the state though the number of Arkansans looking for work is not keeping pace.
Lexicon is striking out on its own to remedy hiring and retention concerns.
"The main focus of Lex U is we want to create an environment that makes our employees want to stay with Lexicon and makes us the employer of choice," Schueck says. "We want to be the employer that people look at and say, 'I want to work there.' The days of throwing money at an employee, those days are gone."
The company has 800 employees in Arkansas and 2,000 total.
Though best known for steelmaking, Lexicon owns several subsidiaries that provide construction management, steel fabrication, erection, mechanical installation and plant maintenance for heavy industrial, commercial and bridge projects, as well as golf course construction, renovation and management services.
Come out and pitch a business idea or cheer on local entrepreneurs Wednesday evening.
The Little Rock Venture Center is holding its Pitch N' Pint event from 6-8 p.m. at Apptegy, 2201 Brookwood Drive in Little Rock, with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.
Early-bird registration is available for $5 and it's $10 at the door.
Area entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas before a live audience, with audience voting included, to compete for cash prizes. The shark-tank-style competition gives participants and the audience an opportunity to share, network, and win cash. Both startups and individuals with an idea will be participating.
The judged competition will examine how the entrepreneurs solve a problem, their target market and the creativeness of the business or pitch.
More information is available at venturecenter.co.
CONDUCTOR COHORT SEEKING TECH COMPANIES
The Conductor, a Conway entrepreneurial support organization, has opened the application process for technology-related companies that need help building a business growth strategy.
The 7th cohort of the 10X Growth Accelerator is a 14-week program beginning Aug. 8. Applications are due Friday.
More than 80 companies have participated in the program, which includes seminars examining leadership and culture, operational effectiveness, innovation readiness, financial health, digital readiness and revenue velocity.
"We've continued to refine the curriculum for the 10X program to best fit the needs of participants and to challenge the participants to think '10X growth'" said Glenn Crockett, 10X Growth Accelerator director.
Participating companies must be tech or tech-enabled with annual average revenues from $100,000 to $10 million and based in Arkansas. A C-level executive or business owner is required to be present for each meeting.
More information and registration is available at arconductor.org.
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