The Director’s Chair: May 2022

The Director's Chair

THESE ARE EXCITING times in Arkansas. As you’ve probably heard, the governor has set our state the goal of becoming a leader in next-generation mobility by the year 2030. Read this month’s Q & A with University of Arkansas research professor Dr. Alan Mantooth, and you’ll get a sense of the scope of this ambitious undertaking.

This effort feels very familiar to us at ACDS: Ever since our inception, we’ve been working on establishing our own version of “next-generation mobility.” I’m talking about Registered Apprenticeships. In their revolutionary way, apprenticeships are to the workforce world what electric cars are to transportation.

With anything new, there are always going to be naysayers. “It’ll never work,” they say. “We’ve got to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.” We’ve run into that time and again with employers who kept insisting on their traditional pathways exclusively for their tech workers. But with patient education and a lot of successful real-world examples, we’ve now convinced more than 100 Arkansas employers that Registered Apprenticeships are a supplemental pathway that is efficient in terms of time and treasure to meet their burgeoning tech-talent requirements. At the same time, this has been a game changer for 300+ young Arkansans who now have a career in IT—right here at home—with an average

annual salary of almost $60,000.

Beyond education, our work requires dedicated partnerships, just as retooling our state for next-gen transportation leadership will. ACDS couldn’t do it alone—we rely on our close relationships with state government (especially the Office of Skills Development), with higher- and secondary-education leaders, with training providers—there are too many partners to name here. But, working together, we continue to build the infrastructure that makes Registered Apprenticeships an easier and easier decision for our state’s employers to make, while increasing the upward mobility of our young tech talent pool. Finally, as Dr. Mantooth says about electric cars and their components, we need investors to see our vision for the future and want to get involved.

As a nod to this new next-gen mobility initiative, we’ve billed this edition of our newsletter as the “Road Trip Issue.” Cars and careers both evoke the idea of journeys. At ACDS, we like to think we help launch our apprentices on the Road Trip that lasts a lifetime.

–Bill Yoder,

Executive Director