Press Release: Arkansas Receives Department of Labor Grant

The logo for the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. The logo is a navy blue "adhe" with a diploma wearing a graduation cap in between the 'd' an 'h.'

For immediate release
April 8, 2020

Arkansas Receives Department of Labor Grant

LITTLE ROCK – The State of Arkansas has been awarded a U.S. Department of Labor grant for $2 million, to be distributed over four years.

The grant—entitled “Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gap”—became effective on March 1, 2020, and is being led by the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Higher Education in conjunction with the Department of Commerce, Office of Skills Development (OSD); Arkansas Division of Workforce Services; and the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS).

“This funding will help build a pipeline of talent that provides Arkansas businesses with the workforce they need to operate,” said Senator John Boozman. “Providing opportunities for Arkansans to develop specialized skills to secure high-wage and in-demand jobs is critical to helping employers identify talent to meet their needs.”

Receiving this grant is a huge win for Arkansas. It specifically demonstrates the effectiveness of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s Transformation Initiative—this success was brought about through a collaboration of multiple state agencies and ACDS, a private-industry-led intermediary that was formed in late 2018 as part of the action plan of Governor Hutchinson’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Economic Competitiveness in Data Analytics and Computing.

“This grant is an incredible opportunity for Arkansas,” said Director of Higher Education, Maria Markham. “Our state is well situated to provide place-based partnerships of employers, educators, community partners, and policy leaders who are working together to build a high-quality apprenticeship program.”

Furthermore, this grant will impact the economic future of Arkansas by helping to establish a sustainable workforce in rapidly changing and high-demand fields:

  • It will allow the implementation of 1600 new apprenticeships in various Information Technology professions throughout the state. ACDS will take the lead in IT and Cybersecurity apprenticeship programs.
  • The model that has been implemented by ACDS for the expansion of IT Registered Apprenticeships will be replicated across the other key industry sectors, most notably Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare, Transportation, and Financial Services. OSD will take the lead in non-IT apprenticeships.
  • The processes and materials for each component of Registered Apprenticeships (candidate tracking, skill development, employer demand, and customized implementation) is being replicated across all sectors with proven expertise and technical assistance.
  • Arkansas employers will be upskilling and promoting incumbent employees or newly hired employees in a paid program comprised of classroom education and on-the-job training.
  • This Department of Labor grant will leverage, via OSD, additional funding streams for employers interested in expanding IT apprenticeships and working toward the state’s overall goal of 10,000 apprentices in Arkansas by 2022.

“The Closing the Skills Gap Grant provides focus and momentum for the benefit of the Arkansas employers who are choosing the Registered Apprenticeship Program as an additional strategy to source their IT staffing needs,” said Bill Yoder, Executive Director, Arkansas Center for Data Sciences.

These types of apprenticeships allow capability and opportunity to blend for successful careers in Information Technology.