The Apprenticeship Report: July 2022

A group of older people shaking hands at an event.


Bringing a national honor home to Arkansas

THE ARKANSAS CENTER for Data Sciences (ACDS) has been designated an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeship. “We welcome ACDS and your partnership to serve as a champion in promoting, expanding, and diversifying Registered Apprenticeship and your support towards strengthening our nation’s workforce,” said John Ladd, Administrator, USDOL, Office of Apprenticeship.

ACDS received this designation due to the leadership of Lonnie Emard, Director of Apprenticeship. Emard brings 15 years of experience in multiple states sponsoring Information-Technology Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) for more than a dozen occupations and across all industry sectors. “As the statewide intermediary for all employers hiring IT apprentices in Arkansas, our commitment as an Apprenticeship Ambassador is to share with other states, grantees, and employers around the country how to replicate our proven best practices,” says Lonnie Emard. “Our end-to-end model makes it easy for employers to implement Registered Apprenticeships as a business strategy for acquiring, developing, and retaining IT talent.”

As an Apprenticeship Ambassador, ACDS will support USDOL’s goals of modernizing Registered Apprenticeships; increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in RAPs; engaging industry in new and emerging sectors; and expanding pre-apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and degree apprenticeships. ACDS will assist with the following activities:

  • Partnerships and innovation
  • Best practices, research, and impact
  • Promotion, resources, and tools

“We’re honored to participate in this excellent program,” says Bill Yoder, ACDS executive director. “Obviously, Lonnie’s experience in Registered Apprenticeships gives ACDS the opportunity to help lead this effort.”

Although a relatively new sponsor for RAPs, ACDS has placed more than 250 apprentices with Arkansas employers and is scaling to over 400 apprentices per year. Currently, 85 employers are participating in RAPs for IT occupations in Arkansas, and ACDS is working to reach a total of 125 employers by the end of 2022. ACDS is also continuing to launch new initiatives to reach underserved communities in the state with the impactful opportunities offered by RAPs.

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.