We started by researching private sector needs, students’ and parents’ mindsets, and collaborating with the State Chamber and its stakeholders. The results showed us we needed to create a platform designed to speak to junior high and high school students about an alternative career path other than college or the military. It was also imperative to enlighten community influencers and parents about the benefits of a skilled labor career and address old stigmas about these careers.
After conducting online surveys of 2,200 Arkansas companies and student/parent focus groups throughout Arkansas, we created a new brand for the movement Be Pro Be Proud which recast skilled-labor professionals as the pros they are and provided inspiration for future pros. In order to change long-held perceptions, our strategy needed to reach students where they are, take a long-term view of filling the emerging skilled professions workforce and persuade students, parents and influencers to take action.
To change the hearts and minds, we worked with the Arkansas State Chamber to develop partnerships with Arkansas companies to create a bigger than life mobile experience that travels to schools and companies across Arkansas. We also created a website hub for parents, students and teachers to sign up and learn more about these lucrative professions. Public Relations, Social Media and Be Pro Be Proud rallies have also continued to be part of the movement.
On the tour, students can engage with hands-on skills tests, videos detailing 12 skilled professions that are also found on the website, and interactive simulators. In order to bring the initiative to life, creative utilized imagery that takes these professions to the next level and appeals to our target so they can visualize themselves in these jobs and understand the opportunities.
Be Pro Be Proud initiatives have been adopted by regions across the country. Corporate sponsors stepped up at all levels and young people are connecting with lucrative career opportunities as a result.