New Initiative Aims To Boost Arizona Workforce Training, Educational Achievement

Published: Friday, September 16, 2016 - 4:34pm
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(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
The West-MEC campus in north Phoenix offers healthcare and other industry workforce training programs for high school students.

Business, education and community leaders joined Gov. Doug Ducey on  Friday to unveil “Achieve 60 AZ”. The initiative’s goal is to get 60 percent of Arizonans to hold college degrees or post-high school certificates by the year 2030.

“In less than five years,” Ducey said. “Nearly 70 percent of all jobs will require more than a high school diploma.” 

Currently, the coalition says 42 percent of Arizonans between the ages of 25 and 64 have a professional certificate, associates or bachelor’s degree. 

Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick said Maricopa Community Colleges play a vital role in raising the number.

“We offer programs, you may not know this, in 95 percent of the highest demand occupations in the greater Phoenix area," she said.

Demand is high in the transportation industry, said Michael Romano of Universal Technical Institute. His campuses in Avondale and 11 other locations train technicians.

“At UTI, we estimate that we have four jobs for every one of our students,” he said. “And what we hear from our industry is that they cannot find trained technicians fast enough.” 

The coalition announced four areas of focus:

Strengthening the K-12 Pipeline

Increase college readiness and high-school graduation rates.

Completing Credentials

Implement policies to make it easier for Arizonans to finish their certificates or college degrees.

Increasing Access

Raise awareness about options beyond high school and make them more affordable.

Aligning Workforce Needs

Engage businesses, governments and educators to identify and close the skills gap.

The group, which includes more than 60 community, business, education and philanthropic leaders, is now working on specific strategies and tactics to reach the 60 percent goal by 2030. The coalition says if Arizona reaches the 60 percent goal of post-high school education, the state would see an extra $3.5 billion in personal income and tax revenue every year. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: KJZZ is licensed to Rio Salado College, one of the Maricopa County Community College District schools.

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