USDOL Recognizes Arkansas’s Leadership in Developing Successful Registered Apprenticeship Programs

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – Arkansas’s leadership in expanding successful apprenticeship programs was recognized at the 2023 Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gap Grantee Convening, March 14-16, in Washington, D.C. hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL).

ACDS Executive Director Bill Yoder and Apprenticeship Director Lonnie Emard were invited to share Arkansas Center for Data Sciences’ (ACDS) end-to-end process of connecting employers with talent through Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP).

“The ACDS approach eliminates every barrier to entry that would have previously kept an employer from using an RAP as a key business strategy for acquiring, developing and retaining IT talent,” said ACDS Executive Director Bill Yoder.

The model includes talent management processes for a very diverse population of Arkansans, project management, U.S. DOL sponsorship, and the tracking and high-quality provisioning of training curriculum for 21 IT and cyber occupations. ACDS now oversees apprenticeship programs for over 100 employers and 505 apprentices.

ACDS joined organizations from across the nation to discuss U.S. DOL priorities including how to leverage RAPs to strengthen the public workforce system; advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA); and improve job quality. ACDS was given the Best Innovation Ignite Award for their presentation.

“We want other states and other sectors to consider our model,” says ACDS Apprenticeship Director Lonnie Emard. “Our team is proud to have developed a model that gets results and serves as a successful example for others to follow.”

The Closing the Skills Grant (CSG) is one of several grants that have been administered by the U.S. DOL to expand registered apprenticeships. The CSG award was predominantly given to higher education institutions, including the Arkansas Department of Education. In Arkansas, however, the collaborative environment to include all employers led to a subcontract with ACDS. Since ACDS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, rather than a state agency, it has been able to address the employer technology talent gap in a unique and effective way.