Director’s Chair: September 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.

SOMETHING VERY BIG and very exciting happened in Newport, Arkansas, last week—the opening of the Tech Depot, an information technology apprenticeship academy, in Newport’s historic Iron Mountain Train Depot. Elsewhere in this newsletter G.B. Cazes tells how the Tech Depot came to be; my purpose here is to tell how ACDS will be involved in the significant work that will be done there.

Tech Depot will offer IT training for individuals who are employed as apprentices to Arkansas companies, several of which, including Hytrol, Farmers Electric Cooperative, Roach Conveyer, Ritter Communications, and Ozark IS, have already committed to using the Tech Depot to train their incumbent or newly hired workers. ACDS will manage the Tech Depot and will take the lead in matching companies to apprentices and selecting training providers for a variety of information technology skills. Courses will be offered in General IT Skills, Data Analysis, Cybersecurity, and Software Development. More subject areas will be added over the next two years to meet industry demand.

Arkansas State University-Newport (ASU-Newport) will be the educational content provider for the initial IT Generalist class that will start on September 28, 2020. ASU-Newport’s experience with industry-driven training programs and with their current apprenticeship models will create an immediate trust in the effectiveness of the training curriculum. “We are thrilled to be part of the initial class at Tech Depot and look forward to developing additional curriculum with ACDS and our industry partners,” said Dr. Sandra Massey, Chancellor of ASU-Newport.

Going forward, ACDS will contract with educational service providers to offer industry-specific instructional content. We at ACDS are very excited about our partnership with ASU-Newport and the Newport Economic Development Commission. Each of the partners brings significant resources that will make this project a model for the future of IT training in Arkansas.

Bill Yoder,

Executive Director