WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (localmemphis.com) – Right now, there are more than 1300 computer science job openings in Arkansas, many of which pay more than $70,000 a year.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson wants to make sure Arkansas students have the skills to fill those jobs, with required computer science and coding courses.
8,000 Arkansas students are now enrolled in such courses and Gov. Hutchinson believes they’re the key to growing the state’s workforce.
That includes students like Justin Simpson. He’s just a sophomore at West Memphis high, but the computer labs at his school are like a second home.
“It’s fun to interact with more things and learn to do more technology every day,” Simpson said.
He’s involved in West Memphis High’s computer science curriculum, recognized as one of the most advanced programs in the state.
“When you do coding, you are more free to express yourselves because you can create a lot more apps and activities to do,” Simpson said.
Those are the type of students Gov. Hutchinson believes can help the Natural State thrive in the 21st century.
“The key to any economy and the strength of it is diversification,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
Since 2015, he’s made computer science curriculum a top education priority. Tuesday morning, he stopped by West Memphis High to re-enforce that message.
“They change the economy of Arkansas dramatically because whenever tech companies see the talent that we are producing out of our high schools and colleges in the computer science area, they say this is where the talent pool is, we can locate there,” Gov. Hutchinson said.
After hearing the governor speak at his school, Simpson believes the computer science classes he enjoys could one day become a career.
“It got me excited hearing him speak in general,” Simpson said. “I’m glad that a lot more jobs will be able to come to Arkansas for people to do here and stay home. “
Since 2015, Gov. Hutchinson visited more than 70 schools statewide.