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Entegrity Exec to Lead Advanced Energy Apprenticeship Program

3 min read

The educational foundation of the state’s advanced energy industry group has launched a new state-financed apprenticeship program, and has announced the hiring of a director for the project, April Ambrose.

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, the nonprofit affiliate of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association of Little Rock, hired Ambrose to lead the training initiative, which is funded through a $2 million four-year grant from the Arkansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Skills Development.

Ambrose, an energy sustainability expert and former chair of the Little Rock Sustainability Commission, started in the new job Jan. 1. Previously, she was a business development manager for Entegrity of Little Rock. She will hold the title of the program’s director of workforce development.

The state and the foundation say they are meeting a need to develop a skilled workforce to fill high-demand positions in the advanced energy and sustainability fields. The AAEF apprenticeship system will partner with the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences to bridge the skills gap, offering on-the-job training and apprenticeships that have sometimes been too expensive for some growing businesses to carry.

According to a news release, Ambrose was chosen to lead the project because of her deep background in sustainability, beginning in her undergraduate days at Hendrix College in Conway.

“We look forward to seeing advanced energy industry employers benefit from this partnership, which will help offset their training costs while providing talent pool access to address the industry’s significant growth,” said Cody Waits, the state’s director of the Office of Skills Development. “This concept is a perfect fit to replicate with AAEF as a best practice to support and work directly with industry experts, which will create jobs and pipelines of talent for the sector all while not growing government.”

Ambrose has devoted her career to helping develop a green jobs workforce. In 2004, she created the Arkansas Earth Day Foundation, and during her time at Entegrity the energy efficiency and solar development company grew from a handful of workers to 130 employees. Ambrose will be working with AAEA members who could benefit from the program, the release said.

“This program allows us to ‘home-grow’ diverse, skills-specific candidates for Arkansas’ emerging sustainability and clean energy companies, while providing high-paying, quality careers with lasting education and accreditations for these workers,” Ambrose said in a statement.

The grant was announced in October, and the Advanced Energy Foundation spent several months consulting with Entergy, a member of the AAEA, to set up the initial apprenticeship program. “As the pilot employer in this program, Entegrity has already been providing this level of education to their employees and are elated to be recognized and supported by the state for growing their business in this way,” Ambrose said.

The Office of Skills Development already had a Registered Apprenticeship Program, known as RAP, but the foundation’s sponsorship is unique in its focus on sustainability and the advanced energy industry “and the access it provides to AAEA’s membership as employers,” the release said.

“The members we have across the advanced energy sector are desperate for local talent to address their expanding labor needs,” AAEA Executive Director Lauren Waldrip said. “After months of facilitating the partnership, we are appreciative of the resources OSD has allocated to enable a solution that will add value to our industry and the state as a whole.”

The Advanced Energy Association will essentially act as a middleman, helping companies gain apprentices. The program will also let participating employers obtain funding for training expenses while the foundation covers overhead and administrative costs and provides project management in the program.

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