The Director’s Chair: Beyond the Numbers – January 2024

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.



AS WE ENTER 2024, ACDS is on target to hit the 1,000-milestone in the number of apprenticeships we’ve processed. Formed in late 2018 as a non-profit, we began training our first IT apprenticeship cohort in December 2019. Four years later—last month—we had notched 861 apprentices. If we remain on the schedule that we’re seeing now, we’ll reach and surpass the millennium number in February.

For a long time, it seemed all about the numbers. From day one, our mandate was to close the gap between the vast number of IT jobs that Arkansas employers needed to fill and the insufficient number of IT grads our schools of higher learning were turning out, so numbers were our way of keeping score—of showing that we were doing the job we’d been handed.

The longer we do this, however, the more we’re able to appreciate the human effects reflected in those numbers. As our process has evolved from “recruiting” talent to “developing” talent, we’ve come to really know the people whose lives—and those of their families—have been changed through our efforts. As we work with them to achieve their career goals, we frequently find ourselves a party to their most cherished dreams.

This was confirmed at a special Tech ‘N’ Talk in Northwest Arkansas last November.  There we had an opportunity to thank, recognize, and congratulate about a dozen employers who’ve been adding Work-Based-Learning Internships and Registered Apprenticeships to their workforce staffing strategy.  Then we heard testimonials from the people who serve as those interns and apprentices. They thanked their employers for giving them an opportunity that most didn’t think they would ever qualify for, and they thanked ACDS and the specific talent representatives who’d worked with them. Clint Hankinson, our marketing director, was at that event and had the foresight to video some of those testimonials; they’re being made available on our website this month, but you can watch a couple of them here and here

We at ACDS have always looked forward to getting up every day and working hard to improve the lot of our Arkansas employers and workforce. But now we fully recognize that ours isn’t just a job of posting numbers; we’re in the very rewarding business of changing lives.

–Bill Yoder, Executive Director