NE Valley Times

NE Valley Times

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Arizona to invest in improving workforce through universities


By John Sammon | Mar 11, 2020

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Gov. Doug Ducey visits students | Facebook

An initiative titled the “New Economy Initiative” will see the state invest millions toward improving the state’s workforce though university training programs to help Arizona’s economy.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved a year 2021 state budget request last September that focuses on enhancing Arizona’s workforce competitiveness.

According to the Arizona Capital Times, an investment from the state requested by the Board of Regents – $46 million in the state’s FY 2021 budget with yearly contributions thereafter– would build on what Arizona State University is seeking to create, a cutting-edge top-tier technological advanced and talented workforce in Arizona that will give the state a key strategic economic development asset for the future.

Future contributions from the state led by Gov. Doug Ducey would sustain the effort, the new Economy Initiative website stated.    

“It’s investing in our future workforce and in research that addresses the challenges we face as a society,” Steven Zylstra, president of the Arizona Technology Council, said in a filmed clip on the Arizona Board of Regents website.

The Regents, representing the state’s three universities, developed a business plan to ensure a highly-skilled future workforce, to improve the lives of Arizona residents and protect taxpayers.

The board's budget request includes university-specific workforce development packages and other economic initiatives.

“Proposed workforce development initiatives are designed to improve the quality of the state’s workforce and support a healthy economy,” the business plan stated. “With a new $100 million initialization investment from the state of Arizona, each university will be asked to mount all our efforts to build the means to drive the state’s economy forward.”

According to New Economy Initiative figures, Arizona ranks fourth in the country in gross domestic product (GDP), or the economic activity, the total value of goods and services in a state. Arizona’s exceeds the rates for California, Texas, Florida and 43 other states, the group website reported.

The stated goal is to enhance the capacity of universities to provide graduates in critical new economy areas such as engineering and health care, support more aggressive competition for research grants that focus on innovative ideas, expand career and technical training and raise high school and college graduation rates.

Chris Camacho, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said the state’s workforce becoming highly skilled is a critical need.

“The economy is rapidly changing,” he said. “The new era will warrant new needs from our workforce. We need to assure that we have a prepared workforce.”      

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