THREE YEARS AGO this month—in July 2019—the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences began actively spreading the word about our mission to help close the IT skills gap in Arkansas. We were footmen who would travel the state to talk with, and listen to, every employer, every higher ed official, and every job seeker who would take the time to hear us out. A few of us at ACDS knew the workforce process, but most of us were just starting our climb up the steep learning curve.
Flash forward to today: As of July 2022, we’ve presented to more than 500 Arkansas employers, we’ve processed some 6,000 individual apprenticeship applications, and we’ve collaborated with numerous state agencies and training partners—allies who’re now an integral part of our state’s IT workforce fabric. We’ve moved past the “proof of concept” stage.
Even so, we’re just scratching the surface. We still have much, much work to do to increase ACDS’ name recognition—and awareness of our mission—across the state. We need to double and then triple the number of participating Arkansas employers. And we especially need to reach out to ever-larger segments of the talent supply to let them know there are great career opportunities for them right here at home. A few months ago, we introduced our new fulltime marketing director, Clint Hankinson, who’s already helping us spread the word through channels we hadn’t previously explored—including, when appropriate, using press releases to let others know of ACDS’ activities and successes.
Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find a couple such stories. One, as we begin this next stage of our work, we go forward with a new, refined image, which we’re debuting this month. Two, thanks in large part to the expertise of Apprenticeship Director Lonnie Emard, ACDS has just been designated an “Apprenticeship Ambassador” by the U.S. Department of Labor. We’re proud to bring this honor to Arkansas, and to carry on this very important work.