Governor Doug Ducey and community college leaders from across the state agreed their schools are part of the economic engine that drives Arizona’s economic momentum.
“By investing in you, we’re investing in the worker,” said Governor Ducey to 10 chancellors and presidents of community colleges in a roundtable on Wednesday morning.
The community college leaders discussed the impact the governor’s proposed $30 million to establish six new workforce accelerators at community colleges will make in their communities, emphasizing the Governor’s dedication to workforce development.
“We stand at the ready to implement the workforce accelerators and be a part of a real boom to the statewide economy,” said Daniel Corr, president of Arizona Western College and Chair of the Arizona Community College Coordinating Council.
The leaders stressed that collaboration among government, industry and academia will help efforts to upskill Arizona’s workforce and prepare workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
The workforce accelerators will build upon the success of Drive48, an advanced manufacturing training center launched at Central Arizona College in partnership with Lucid Motors.
“Drive48 has been a game changer for Central Arizona College,” said Jackie Elliott, president of Central Arizona College. “Pinal County is becoming a very desirable location for businesses to relocate to and Drive48 has been extremely instrumental in that. Our partnership with Lucid Motors has changed the trajectory for the college.”
In 2016, Lucid Motors selected Pinal County for its advanced manufacturing facility. Now in operation, 1,700 Lucid Motors employees have been trained using Drive48’s state-of-the-art tools.
Announced in Governor Ducey’s 2022 State of the State Address, the proposed workforce accelerators will pave the way for the workforce of the future and further accelerate Arizona’s economic momentum. The Governor said:
“Our budget makes historic investments into community colleges to empower our people with a quality education and the skills of the future.”
Arizona’s economic momentum was in part attributed to the strong partnerships between community colleges and industry leaders. As a top selling point for many companies, workforce and talent development is critical for a growing economy.
Much of that momentum can be seen throughout the rural parts of the state.
Discussing the opportunities to implement four-year degrees at their colleges, the leaders agreed the option opens opportunity for all, especially in rural counties.
“At Yavapai College, our disadvantaged students that complete associate’s degrees don’t go on to four-year universities at the same rate as those who are not disadvantaged,” said Lisa Rhine, president of Yavapai College. “The reason is often cost. The reason is commitment to their family locally and an obligation to employers and work in our community. So what the four-year degree means to Yavapai County and Yavapai College is the opportunity to provide equal access and opportunity to advanced education for a rural community.”
Many of the potential four-year degree programs discussed included health care, nursing, aircraft testing, data science and hospitality.
“We have to think of everyday Arizonans and how we can serve everyone across the state,” said Governor Ducey. “Far too many people outside of Arizona only think of the Valley of the Sun and the Grand Canyon, but I’d really like to expose the rest of our state because it provides so many options and a good quality of life.”
In addition to Corr, Elliott and Rhine, the Governor was joined by Mohave Community College President Stacy Klippenstein, Cochise College President J.D. Rottweiler, Eastern Arizona College President Todd Haynie, Coconino Community College President Colleen Smith, Maricopa Community Colleges Interim President Steven Gonzales, Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert and Northland Pioneer College President Chato Hazelbaker.
Governor Doug Ducey declared this week, January 23-29, 2021, Arizona School Choice Week to highlight the importance of equipping parents and families with decisions around their children’s education that best fits their needs. Community colleges offer more options for Arizonans to get their higher education degrees.
In 2021, Governor Ducey signed legislation enabling community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Community colleges are critical for equipping the workforce with much-needed skills. Four year degrees at community colleges will provide additional learning pathways, especially for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education.
Arizona has a history of strong partnerships among academia, industry leaders and the public sector:
In March 2021, Arizona launched Drive48, an advanced manufacturing training center in Pinal County. The state-of-the-art facility serves the region and state by providing a training center for high-tech manufacturing jobs in fields such as automotive assembly, advanced manufacturing, heavy equipment and more. Housed at Central Arizona College in Pinal County, Drive48 was created in partnership with local government and industry partners, including Lucid Motors.
In 2019, Arizona’s advanced manufacturers, public sector and academic institutions came together to create a first-of-its-kind partnership called the Arizona Advanced Technology Network. Maricopa County Community College District, Central Arizona College and Pima Community College partnered to develop a unified, industry-recognized curriculum specifically designed to teach the skills needed for high-paying, high-tech advanced manufacturing jobs.
In 2020, Intel partnered with the Maricopa County Community College District to launch its first Intel-designed artificial intelligence associate degree program. Intel has also been a longtime partner with the Arizona State University Fulton School of Engineering.
CP Technologies joined forces with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Yavapai College to foster an innovative ecosystem, and plans to leverage the impressive talent produced by these educational institutions in its hiring efforts.