Arkansas has been awarded a $2 million, four-year U.S. Department of Labor grant to provide more information technology training throughout the state.
The grant became effective on March 1. Grant administrators are the Arkansas Department of Education's Division of Higher Education, along with the Department of Commerce's Office of Skills Development; Arkansas Division of Workforce Services; and the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences.
The grant will be used to:
Add 1,600 new apprenticeships in various IT professions (ACDS will take the lead on these).
Replicate the ACDS registered IT apprenticeships model across other industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, health care, transportation and financial services. (OSD will take the lead on non-IT apprenticeships.)
Replicate the processes and materials for each component of registered apprenticeships (candidate tracking, skill development, employer demand, and customized implementation) across all sectors with proven expertise and technical assistance.
Help employers upskill and promote existing or newly hired employees in a paid program consisting of classroom education and on-the-job training.
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.
"This funding will help build a pipeline of talent that provides Arkansas businesses with the workforce they need to operate," Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in a news release. "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."
Director of Higher Education Maria Markham said, "This grant is an incredible opportunity for Arkansas. 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."
ACDS Executive Director Bill Yoder said, "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."