Director’s Chair: January 2022

The Director's Chair

GOOD MORNING, AND here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2022. You know that ACDS exists as a part of Governor Hutchinson’s vision of filling our IT workforce gap with trained Arkansans. Toward that end, in this month’s newsletter we’re introducing Edition 2 of ITARKANSAS Magazine. This publication has something for everybody, but its main message is directed at high school students, their parents, and their career advisors. The magazine provides examples of great IT opportunities right here in Arkansas, and multiple pathways to start and create great IT careers.

While you often hear us at ACDS talking up the benefits of Registered Apprenticeships, we know that in order to address and sustain the availability of Arkansans working for Arkansas employers in IT, it’s imperative that we as a state systematically focus on this overall pipeline that starts much earlier in our education system. Governor Hutchinson initiated that just as soon as he was elected, making computer science courses available in our high schools, and under the guidance and leadership of Anthony Owen, State Director of Computer Science Education for the Arkansas Department of Education, we have 242 high schools with students enrolled in these courses, and we’re approaching 60,000 student enrollments since the 2014-2015 school year.

In the present school year of 2021-2022, we have 13,537 enrollments. And while enrollments are up at every grade level, Owen reports that the largest number of enrollments are from the state’s ninth graders. Meanwhile, more than 750 eighth graders are taking a computer science course for high school credit, and 593 high school students are enrolled for concurrent credit for college courses.

That is a pipeline that our state’s colleges and universities can work with, taking these young Arkansans’ passion, potential, and past performance and almost immediately adding value for the Arkansas companies requiring those IT skills.

Thank you, Governor Hutchinson, and thank you, Anthony Owen.

–Bill Yoder,

Executive Director