Director’s Chair: July 2020

A headshot of an old white man with white hair on the sides of his head wearing glasses, a black suit jacket, and a blue and white checkered shirt on the Director's Chair announcement.

I HAVE ALWAYS been a sports fan.  Growing up, I followed baseball, football, basketball, and, later, golf.  Two of the greats were still coaching when I was young—Casey Stengel was manager of the New York Yankees, and Vince Lombardi was head coach of the Green Bay Packers. 

In business as in life, we sometimes reach a moment when we know we need to regroup, refocus, and get back to what’s truly important.  Stengel would bring his team together and say, “We’re going back to the fundamentals, just like in spring training.” Lombardi would huddle his team around him and really return to basics: Holding up a ball, he would say to the Packers, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”   

It’s been four months since our world went virtual.  Locked in innumerable Zoom meetings, it’s easy to lapse into transactional mode and take our eyes off our most important strategic objectives—our true measures of value and success.  I’m determined not to let that happen at ACDS, and soon our team will be holding a series of dedicated get-togethers—yes, on Zoom—to revisit and renew our long-term aspirations.

Short-term, however, the basics are vital to our long-term strategic objectives, and at ACDS, Registered Apprenticeship Programs are our basics. ACDS was formed to help Arkansas employers meet their demand for IT talent with qualified Arkansas workers.  To that end, we work with all employers as well as with the entire state spectrum of talent-supply stakeholders:  Higher Ed, K-12, and existing workers wanting to get into IT. ACDS polls Arkansas employers about the specific IT skills and occupations they’re looking for.  The skill requirements we hear most often are for Software Developer, QA Testing, Network Technician, UI/UX Designer, Cloud Analyst, Data Analyst, and Cybersecurity Analyst. 

But the two most in-demand skill sets are Cybersecurity Analyst and Data Analyst. So for ACDS, filling those jobs is getting to the basics of the basics. It’s tending to the fundamentals and focusing on what’s most important.  This week we started a Data Analyst cohort with our training partner UCA/Arkansas Coding Academy (ArCA), and in August we’ll kick off our second Cybersecurity Analyst cohort with our training partner American Cyber Alliance (ACA). 

I like to think that Stengel and Lombardi would approve.

–Bill Yoder

Executive Director