The Director’s Chair: August 2023

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.

AT ACDS, THERE’S always something exciting going on. You may have heard about our latest news, but, just in case, I wanted to share with our newsletter subscribers a press release that went out on Friday, August 25:

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas -The Arkansas Center for Data Sciences (ACDS) is announcing that it will serve to provide the common process for implementing Registered Apprenticeships across the state of Arkansas.

This new, broader apprenticeship approach will leverage ACDS’ proven processes and capabilities to capture all of the manufacturing, advanced energy, broadband, and transportation sector occupations that are not currently supported by a sponsor, as well as to serve new companies that choose not to be their own sponsor. ACDS works closely with the Office of Skills Development, which serves as the state agency responsible for the expansion of Registered Apprenticeships.

While ACDS’ priority, since its launch, has been on the Information Technology and Cybersecurity occupations, their model has already been successfully used for non-IT occupations. ACDS is one of the national leaders in the number of IT apprenticeships processed and is already working with more than 130 Arkansas employers. “The model creates a system of support that eliminates all the reasons employers might not have utilized apprenticeships in the past,” stated Lonnie Emard, Apprenticeship Director for ACDS.

“ACDS has established a proven model that can be scaled to include multiple sectors and occupations that are in high demand and require an employer-driven skills-based method of talent acquisition, talent development, and talent retention,” said ACDS Executive Director Bill Yoder. “Individual sector communications and branding will soon be finalized and fully communicated.”

As part of this announcement, April Ambrose, the lead for the Renewable Energy Sector, will be merged into ACDS as part of industry sector leadership. The new statewide intermediary plans to include a number of other sectors before the end of the year. It will not compete with other well-established apprenticeship sponsors, but instead will offer an alternative to Arkansas employers who prefer not to take on the role of sponsorship.

“With the successful results being delivered for information technology apprenticeships, we are in full support of having ACDS also sponsor apprenticeships for employers where there are critical current and future industry sector needs,” stated Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Hugh McDonald. “We are 100% customer focused on the employer, and ACDS has implemented a model designed for Arkansas employers and will be extremely helpful for those in manufacturing, energy, transportation and broadband.”

–Bill Yoder, Executive Director