Austin Community College District (ACC) and the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) announce a first-of-its-kind technology and cybersecurity apprenticeship to reimagine apprenticeship programs for higher education and state agencies. The college hosted a formal signing agreement to launch the new program Friday, June 28, at the ACC Highland Campus in the Make It Center.  

“This is the start of a new system that will change how we work to prepare students for a better future for them and their families. It will support students finishing what they started while getting the experience they need to transition to a successful career,” says ACC Chancellor Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart. “These are the partnerships that confirm ACC is the one that is going to train the workers and make all of this magic happen. It is the start of what can truly transform the lives of our students and community.”

The partnership is closely aligned with House Bill 584. It lays the groundwork for in-house information technology training programs within state agencies. 

“The idea was that we have a workforce shortage in cybersecurity, and there were obstacles to getting that workforce built out—the biggest was requiring a four-year degree. We determined we could look at apprenticeship,” says Texas Rep. Donna Howard. “We can create a position for IT cybersecurity that could lead to an associate degree and create a situation where the state could actually hire folks without a four-year degree, but who actually have the experience and the knowledge to protect the resources that we have in our systems.”

“ACC and community colleges across Texas have proven that you do not need a 4-year degree to be talented at cybersecurity, to be talented at state IT. We’re pumping tons of money into our community colleges. It’s time for the state to start reaping some of those benefits,” says Spencer Schumacher, Executive Director at Innovation & Technology Caucus of the Texas Legislature. “Last session, we invested $2.6 billion into major state IT projects…but all of those investments mean nothing if we don’t have talented people in state agencies to make decisions about what technology to deploy and when to deploy it.”

DIR will serve as the employer for this pilot program.

“This is a fantastic way to strengthen the state IT workforce and, frankly, the partnership with ACC was just a natural fit. it is the perfect pilot partner for us with this initiative. We want to be able to scale it across the state. We’ve partnered with [ACC] in the past on a variety of other initiatives, [its] proximity to state government offices, and then [its] exceptional cybersecurity and computer science programs really made it a natural fit,” says Amanda Crawford, DIR’s Executive Director and State of Texas Chief Information Officer. “We are looking at a global shortage of cybersecurity workers. We really need help to teach these skills and get folks out there as quickly as possible. Two-year degree programs are just as effective in helping us get folks out there as quickly as possible to be able to address that shortage.”

ACC will use this model to replicate with all partners, including business and industry. Apprenticeships offer the dual benefit of work and study, providing hands-on training while pursuing academic qualifications. This apprenticeship offers a unique model for training state agency employees and provides an all-encompassing view of the department, blending academic learning with practical, on-the-job experience. 

“Apprenticeships are the best way for students to get real-time on-the-job training. While getting the skills that can make them hirable,” says Dr. Lowery-Hart. “This program will help ACC become the gold standard for apprenticeships that reflect the needs of industry. It will reflect the prowess, and pedagogy of incredible faculty. It will meet the needs of our community and give students a pathway to a family-sustaining wage.”

“Having ACC as a partner is really important because there are great minds coming through here. I was out a recent event that you all had, and I got to connect with some students. They understood exactly what we do. They knew what they wanted,” says Lisa Jammer, DIR Chief People and Culture Officer. “Each area of the apprenticeship allows you to understand the state’s infrastructure better. If you’re really looking to deep dive and understand exactly what we do here, this is the opportunity. You’re sitting down with experts who have 20 or more years of experience, but also to enjoy some of the new things that are happening.”

The program is designed to be a template for future partnerships between state agencies and educational institutions, with the potential to expand into the private sector. ACC’s next partnership will be with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. 

Cybersecurity Programs at ACC

The Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program at ACC represents a significant step forward in addressing the tech industry’s evolving needs and creating pathways for students to enter the workforce.

The college offers a full computer science pathway from fast-track competency-based education (CBE) programs and other accelerated options to an associate degree in Computer Information Technology and Computer Science. In fall 2023, ACC launched its fourth bachelor’s degree in Cybersecurity. The bachelor of applied science (BAS) is designed to help working professionals in cybersecurity prepare for more advanced career roles. The college also offers a BAS in Software Development. 

Explore all ACC programs in Computer Science and IT at

Apprenticeship Programs at ACC

In 2023, more than 100 students registered to complete apprenticeships. At least seven ACC departments, including health sciences, manufacturing, IT, accounting, and veterinary technology, are involved in apprenticeship programs with over 25 industry partners. ACC’s programs are registered with the Texas Workforce Commission.

For more information, visit