Apprenticeship Programs Address Cybersecurity Deficit in Arkansas

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LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS – The Office of Skills Development (OSD), the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS), and Forge Institute are hosting the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Employer Accelerator on Wednesday, September 14th at 10AM to help Arkansas employers solve their challenge of hiring and retaining a talented cyber workforce. Registration for the virtual event is free.

Cyber threats grow daily, and the talent to combat them is not keeping up. It is estimated that the U.S. has over 700,000 open cybersecurity positions; over 4,000 of those are here in Arkansas. “For organizations to succeed in an environment where cyber threats are increasing, they need top cybersecurity talent,” says Cody Waits, Director of the Office of Skill Development. “Through Registered Apprenticeship Programs, we can grow that talent right here in Arkansas. It’s a ‘win’ for our economy, our communities, and every technology professional who wants to continue to call Arkansas ‘home.’”

The employer accelerator is a part of the 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint, a national campaign led by the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and other federal agencies to encourage employers, industry associations, labor unions, and training providers to explore Registered Apprenticeship as a recruitment, training, and retention strategy.

“Registered Apprenticeships are changing the workforce landscape here in The Natural State – because they work,” says Bill Yoder, Executive Director of Arkansas Center for Data Sciences. “Over the past two-and-a-half years since its inception, ACDS has helped nearly 100 employers engage more than 400 apprentices in a variety of IT professions. And those numbers are rapidly growing. With the financial incentives, customized employee training, and project management services available through ACDS, many employers have discovered Registered Apprenticeship Programs to be the solution they were looking for.”

“Our adversaries have recruited and equipped skilled attackers who train daily to conduct their siege of fear, steal our intellectual property, violate our data privacy, or test their abilities on our critical infrastructure,” said Scott Anderson, the Executive Director of the Forge Institute. “To combat this evolving threat, we must ensure our people are equipped with the competencies needed to hold back this aggressive threat. The Forge Institute Academy trains IT and cyber defenders to better defend against cyber criminals and near peer nation-state aggressors through instructor-led, virtual training with extensive hands-on labs and curriculum built in partnership with industry.”

Leaders from across the state will share their experiences and insights into how employers can leverage Registered Apprenticeship Programs to help solve their cyber workforce challenges. Speakers include:

  • Office of Skills Development (OSD) – Cody Waits, Director and Mark McManus, Apprenticeship Expansion Coordinator
  • Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) – Bill Yoder, Executive Director and Lonnie Emard, Apprenticeship Director
  • Forge Institute – Scott Anderson, Executive Director
  • Arvest Bank – Jim Cole, CIO
  • Walmart – Brynt Parmeter, Senior Director, Non-Traditional Talent
  • Arkansas Division of Information Systems – Jonathan Askins, Director
  • U.S. Department of Labor – Manny Lamarre, Senior Advisor
  • National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), NIST – Marian Merritt, Deputy Director

Employers can register here:

About the Office of Skills Development

The Office of Skills Development (OSD), a division of the Arkansas Department of Commerce, is the state agency responsible for the oversight, expansion, and funding of Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programs and Secondary Career Centers throughout the state. OSD also supports Arkansas businesses by awarding workforce development grants. OSD strategically invests in all levels of the Arkansas workforce, from students to incumbent workers, by raising education and skill levels, meeting the needs of companies operating in Arkansas, balancing workforce and employer interests, leading to greater economic achievement for workers and companies. Learn more at

About ACDS

The Arkansas Center for Data Sciences is dedicated to growing the state’s IT economy by fostering collaboration, establishing critical partnerships, and developing talent in high-demand, high-growth areas such as software development, data analytics and cybersecurity. ACDS was created as a result of Governor Hutchinson’s Blue Ribbon Commission and has quickly established programs in central and northwest Arkansas.

ACDS works with key partners including: Arkansas Office of Skills Development, Division of

Workforce Service, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Forge Institute,

Xpanxion Technology, Pluralsight, Arkansas Academy of Computing, University of

Arkansas Global Campus, Newport Economic Development Commission, ASU

Newport, SEARK Community College, Arkansas Local Workforce Boards, Shorter

College, and others. Learn more at

About Forge Institute

Forge Institute is the Nation’s leader in advancing cyber capabilities through innovative partnerships across the public and private sectors. Our mantra, “Forever One Step Ahead,” is our reminder to remain vigilant, updated, and innovative against an enemy that seeks nothing less than the permanent disruption of our way of life. Forge Institute’s portfolio includes the Emerging Threat Center, The Forge Academy, The Forge Fellowship, and Innovation Labs, which explore industry and federally funded projects with our research partners. For more information, visit the Forge Institute at: