LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – ARCodeKids is creating a program to include 12 adults who each will receive a $6,000 scholarship to attend the 12-week Arkansas Coding Academy, Governor Asa Hutchinson and ARCodeKids representatives announced at the capitol today.
These scholarships will provide adult Arkansans who already are in the workforce with new skills in a high-need area. Four of the 12 scholarships have been designated for employees of Arkansas state government—one from each of the state’s four congressional districts. The four state employees selected will receive paid leave from the state during the academy.
Governor Hutchinson also announced that enrollment in state high school computer science classes has increased by 12 percent over the 2016-2017 school year. More than 6,000 students are enrolled this school year compared to 5,500 in 2016-2017. Since 2015, there has been a 460 percent increase in computer science course enrollment, from 1,104 students in 2014-15 to 6,184 students in 2017-18.
In his first month in office, Governor Hutchinson helped guide legislation that made Arkansas the first state in the nation to require all public high schools to provide classes in computer coding. The governor also provided $2.5 million a year for four years to train teachers and support K-12 computer-science education. Several national publications have cited Arkansas as a leader in computer-science education.
“Our educators continually amaze me with their ideas for increasing computer literacy in Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This innovative plan to offer adults in the workforce the opportunity to learn computer coding is more evidence that Arkansans have embraced our initiative with an enthusiasm that attracts young people and teachers. The proof is in our numbers. Enrollment in coding classes has increased by nearly 500 percent over three years.”
ARCodeKids will work with the governor’s office and the Arkansas Department of Education Office of Computer Science to select applicants, who will be evaluated by an impartial committee. Information about applying for a scholarship will be provided by the end of the year.
Mary Condit, director of the Arkansas Coding Academy, expressed her appreciation for Governor Hutchinson’s support.
“The Arkansas Coding Academy is excited to partner with ARCodeKids and Governor Hutchinson to train talented individuals in order to succeed in the IT industry in Arkansas. We are elated that Governor Hutchinson has graciously allowed Arkansas state employees paid leave during the course in an effort to grow our skilled workforce, allowing Arkansans access to a better future. We applaud Governor Hutchinson’s commitment to Arkansas’s workforce and are so thankful for the support from ARCodeKids.”
The number of openings for technology jobs validates the value of the adult scholarship program, said Dave Wengel, founder of ARCodeKids.
“Our mission is to help create new career pathways for talented Arkansans who want to pursue a technology-focused career here in our great state,” Wengel said. “This program is a natural fit given how many tech job openings we have identified with our www.ARTechJobs.com website. We look forward to supporting the efforts of the leaders of the Arkansas Coding Academy so they can help teach our scholarship recipients the skills needed to make them job ready.”
The excitement for computer-science education continues to grow across the state, and not just in the halls of our schools, said Anthony Owen, state Director of Computer Science Education.
“My office has been extremely excited about bringing this scholarship program to the state since it was first discussed. Not only should Arkansas focus on providing K-12 and post-secondary students with a quality computer-science education, but we also must begin seriously looking at retraining our existing workforce. This scholarship program is a great early step. I commend Governor Hutchinson’s leadership as Arkansas continues to lead the nation in computer-science education.”