Arkansas Center for Data Sciences, NWA Council create tech-focused apprenticeship program

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,398 views 

The Northwest Arkansas Council and the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) have partnered to create a new apprenticeship program.

The course will create 200 apprenticeships and includes classroom education and on-the-job training for a minimum of one year. The program will target high school and university students who graduate in the spring and adults who are making career changes to work in cybersecurity, website development or data analytics.

ACDS and Arkansas Department of Commerce grants will pay for the training. People who are interested in becoming apprentices in those three fields will be able to submit applications through the Northwest Arkansas Council’s new careers-focused website. The application will be on the website in October.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and representatives of more than 30 Northwest Arkansas companies were present for Wednesday’s (Sept. 4) program announcement at the Northwest Arkansas Council offices in Springdale.

“After our successful apprenticeship accelerator in Little Rock, we’re pleased to help bring the apprenticeship message to employers in Northwest Arkansas,” ACDS Executive Director Bill Yoder said in a statement. “We at ACDS look forward to working with the Northwest Arkansas Council to launch the first set of information technology apprenticeship programs in the fourth quarter of this year.”

The University of Arkansas Global Campus and NorthWest Arkansas Community College will be involved in the training programs.

Joe Rollins, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s workforce development director, will lead the shared effort between state agencies, regional employers and education providers. He will continue to recruit employers to participate in the program, and there’s already strong interest. As apprentice applications are received, participating employers will review the submitted applications on the Careers NWA website.

The employers will select the apprentices they want to hire. The program allows Northwest Arkansas employers to hire entry-level talent who can build a career based on the opportunity, allowing them to quickly become an asset to the Northwest Arkansas workforce and economy.

FUEL 2.0
Tuesday’s announcement of the Northwest Arkansas apprenticeship program coincided with an announcement by Startup Junkie and RevUnit, who will launch a second Fuel accelerator program in 2020.

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is also a sponsor of the zero-cost, zero-equity accelerator. It will support a cohort of growth-stage startups focusing on innovation in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The application period has started, interviews will take place later this year and finalists for the accelerator will be announced in January 2020.

Office space for the 12-week program will be provided at The Exchange in downtown Bentonville.

The inaugural Fuel accelerator last year was a 16-week program for eight supply chain startups.