The Director’s Chair: June 2022

The Director's Chair

THOSE WHO KNOW me well know that I follow most sports. I also follow, and root for, a few individual athletes in several different sports. I like to know what spurs them to overachieve, what reservoir of discipline they call upon to bring their “A game” when everything is on the line. In other words, I like to know what makes a champion a champion.

I recently started reading a book called greatness—with a lower-case g, by Dr. David L. Cook. For those who aspire to Cook’s title attribute, his first principle is “Focus: knowing where you want to go.” Practice drills, two-a-day workouts, even a map won’t help you reach your goal if you don’t know your target destination.

That thought resonated with me—both personally, as someone curious about the makeup of overachievers, and professionally, as someone in the business of helping supply the right tech talent for our state’s employers. And it occurred to me that all of us who have a hand in building this future IT workforce—educators, government experts, employers, parents, and other forward-thinking Arkansans—need to hammer home this message to the young people who will make up this 21st -century workforce, across all industry sectors, but specifically in

IT: These challenging, fulfilling, well-paying careers should be in the running for “where you want to go.”

Arkansas offers an extraordinary array of options for anyone with IT skills. Just think about the sheer range of industries in which our state plays a leadership role: retail, transportation, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing. Pick a favorite industry, then research how many jobs or careers depend on IT skills.

At ACDS, we’re almost halfway through our third year of operation, and we’re proud to share some very good news about our mission. Elsewhere in this newsletter, I hope you’ll read Apprenticeship Director Lonnie Emard’s report on the excellent outcome data now available to all, whether you’re an employer looking for tech talent, a young Arkansan considering an IT career, or a parent concerned about your child’s future wellbeing.

Three things we would like to ask of you: One, if you’re in a position to offer career advice to someone, please include the option of IT. Two, if they push back with “I can’t,” you make sure to tell them, “Yes, you can!” Three, have them reach out to us at We can help them get to where they want to go.

–Bill Yoder,

Executive Director