The Director’s Chair: August 2022

The Director's Chair

IN THIS MONTH’S newsletter, you’ll read a heartfelt testimonial about how tech can make a huge difference in supporting business processes. You’ll also read an interview with the new director of the Northwest Arkansas Tech Summit, whose theme for this fall’s event is “Fast Forward”—referring to the blistering pace of change in technology these days, and how that’s shaking up both industry needs and workforce development.

We at ACDS know just how timely and on-target these features are. Every employer we talk with about IT talent and skills requirements seems to be transitioning to an upgraded technology that provides more automation and improved efficiency. But the subject strikes even closer to home for us. Considering the growth that ACDS has experienced over the past three years, it was time for us to ask ourselves: Why not us too?

We registered as a sponsor organization with the Department of Labor in 2019, and started the first apprenticeship programs—in Cybersecurity and Software Development—in Q4 of 2019. Our number one objective, then as now, is Customer Experience: That is, we aspire to achieve 100-percent satisfied and reference-ready clients of those employers with whom we place apprentices.

Our technology initially included an Applicant Tracking System for those individuals applying for opportunities, and a CRM System for employer and partner contact tracking. In 2020 and 2021, our team kept evolving and improving our processes, including how we integrated and tracked status within those two primary technology platforms. Meanwhile, our number of targeted employer outcomes went from 100 in 2020, to 250 in 2021, to 450 in 2022. Looking longer term, the employer demand for our services could grow to 1,000 in the next couple of years.

Clearly, it was time for ACDS to transform our tech platform, and we started 2022 with the goal of researching alternatives and implementing our next generation of technology. We found no single end-to-end system, but we did include an API that would provide an interface from the new Applicant Tracking System to a new CRM that would include all employers, applicants, individuals participating in one of our services, and all the other ACDS partners. The new ATS was implemented in July, and the new CRM and API are scheduled to go live in October.

Going forward, we’re not only 100-percent focused on our Customer Experience, we’re also 100-percent certain that this transformation will boost our operational efficiency, to the ongoing benefit of all Arkansans.

–Bill Yoder,

Executive Director