FORT SMITH — A new platform designed to introduce students to career paths in western Arkansas has been rolled out in the area.
Jeremy Bout, president of the New York-based Edge Factor, provided members of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce with an overview of what his company provides and its activities in the area during the chamber’s 2019 Annual Meeting Wednesday.
Bout said Edge Factor, which works across North America, is providing the tools “to tell a story for a community.”
“We have a platform that allows each stakeholder a voice that brings everything together so a student goes from inspiration to exploration to preparation to connection, helps them understand that, ‘Hey, within 25 miles of where I’m standing, at this current moment, there’s opportunity for me,’” Bout said. “So it’s really about a platform that helps workforce development solutions all unite the efforts around this.”
Bout said this online platform for western Arkansas is edgefactor.com/fortsmithar.
Tim Allen, president and CEO of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said during a Monday interview the chamber signed a three-year contract with Edge Factor in the first quarter of 2019, with it serving as the pilot community for Edge Factor in Arkansas.
The goal with Edge Factor, according to Allen, is to introduce junior high and high school students, as well as college students, to what certain jobs at local companies look like through the use of digital content they can show their parents, including testimonial videos.
“So using Edge Factor, we’re going to now be able to, through a series of storytelling and videos that we’ve already produced, … go directly into the students through their hand-held devices, or even television, and show them, through personal stories at a variety of companies, what a day in the life looks like at a business, and you can pick any business in Fort Smith,” Allen said.
Once a student shows interest in a particular career path, such as health care, and becomes a member in the Edge Factor platform, Allen said local industry will be able to communicate with them, creating an interaction between employer and potential employee.
Bout said Edge Factor delivers content in four key ways. This includes inspiration, exploration, preparation and connection, and they, in that order, form what he called a “a timeline of understanding” that defines the company’s approach.
The inspiration part of the timeline involves utilizing storytelling to get students excited to explore careers and plan their future, Bout said. Exploration means empowering students to discover local industries, companies, careers and training programs. Preparation entails equipping students to learn soft skills, explore local training programs, and discover how the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math are utilized in the real world. Finally, connection means helping students and parents browse all local companies, careers, schools and training programs.
Allen said on Wednesday the Edge Factor platform for western Arkansas, called “Fort Smith has the Edge,” is up and running.
The chamber of commerce has provided instruction about Edge Factor and how to use it to nearly 200 teachers, counselors and principals representing 23 junior high and high schools in the area over the last several weeks.
A number of videos concerning local companies, such as ArcBest and Rheem, are already available for viewing. Over 20 companies have pledged support for this initiative.