The Director’s Chair: March 2023

The Director's Chair

LAST WEEK, THE U.S. Department of Labor hosted its “Closing the Skills Gap” (CSG) conference in Washington, D.C., bringing together recipients of four-year DOL grants for Registered Apprenticeship development from all over the country. One-hundred-fifty people attended, including 24 grantees, many of them bringing four or five team members. The presentations and panel discussions covered all that the grantees have accomplished over the past three years, and touched on our remaining goals with one year of the grant to go. The session moderators and Subject Matter Experts included representatives from the Department of Labor, Safal Partners, Jobs for the Future, and Urban Institute.

Lonnie Emard and I represented the Arkansas team. We had been asked by the DOL organizers to prepare a presentation on our “end-to-end” apprenticeship process, and we gave our talk to a standing-room-only crowd. Our title was “The Bridge Across the Technology Gap,” and in it we had a chance to explain and accentuate our “removing all barriers” strategy for getting employers to commit to use Apprenticeships as a supplemental staffing strategy. We also showcased our Talent Development process, explaining how our Talent Acquisition and Development team takes Arkansans “where they are” and develops them to “where they need to be” in order to be “employer ready.” Finally, we walked the audience through our Project Management process, explaining how that team takes care of

all the tracking and reporting requirements so that our employer clients don’t have to.

Once we finished our presentation, we fielded lots of questions from a very enthusiastic audience, and we received a number of requests for follow-up meetings. A few grantees even wanted to pay for us to come talk with their whole team!

Our reason for attending this conference was simply (a) to get to know some of the DOL leadership and (b) to make sure Arkansas was recognized for the many workforce development accomplishments that are happening in our state. I’m pleased to say, “Mission accomplished.”

We welcome any and all suggestions.

–Bill Yoder,

Executive Director