Arizona Governor, AWC President Tout Economic Benefits
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Wednesday discussed the importance of workforce development and training throughout community colleges in the state.
Governor Ducey was joined in a workforce development call with Arizona Western College President Dr. Daniel Corr and President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, Sandra Watson, among other educational leaders.
Last week, Doctor Corr and Ducey participated in a roundtable discussion with other community college leaders from around the state in which they agreed that Arizona's community colleges are an integral part of the engine that drives the economic momentum.
"Last year's budget also invested over $40 million in our community colleges. And there's more we can do. Our budget this year proposes an additional $30 million to fully restore STEM and workforce funding, provide students with financial aid, and more. On top of that, we're allocating funds to develop six new workforce accelerators in our community colleges that will be modeled after ones like Drive 48," said Ducey.
Drive 48 consists of cutting-edge robots and multiple hands-on training rooms that will help quickly and efficiently train program participants.
Corr said Arizona community colleges are the secret sauce of this remarkable economic boom the state is experiencing. He adds the state is one of four states in the entire nation that is back to pre-COVID levels of employment.
"Many community colleges participated in the program that was sponsored by the National Government Association and the American Association of Community Colleges. The reskilling and recovery, and we've done just that. We've reskilled our population, upscaled our population, and recovered from the pandemic effects."
Corr said he's thrilled the budget proposal calls for more investments in these workforce accelerators.
He said community colleges are not training people for yesterday's jobs, but rather tomorrow's jobs that consist of artificial intelligence, automation, and cyber security.
Under Ducey's leadership, Watson said Arizona had experienced a statewide advanced manufacturing success surge. Manufacturing jobs in the state have increased at one of the fastest rates in the nation.
Watson adds, "With the second-fastest job growth rate from 2016 to 2020, nearly 177,000 Arizonans now work in the manufacturing industry. Drive 48 and the areas of advanced technology networks are examples of the first of its kind workforce solutions that bring together the industry, public, sector, and academia, which serves as both a statewide and national model for workforce leadership."
As for placing exiting students in jobs in local labor markets after graduation, Corr says they are ten different community college districts in tune with the local workforce and workforce needs. Corr adds the agricultural needs of Yuma and La Paz County are met and addressed at AWC.
"That's not the case in more rural districts. By communicating with our community, staying in touch with our community, working with organizations like the Greater Yuma Economic of Development Corporation, Chambers of Commerce, the ACA, etc. We are training people on today's jobs based on local needs."
Last month, Ducey announced a $7.5 million investment to expand AWC's Law Enforcement Training Academy in Yuma.