Tag Archives: career and technical education

College: an easy choice

Two aspiring marketers, one dentist and one pre-med student

From left: Two aspiring marketers, one dentist and one pre-med student

I had the privilege recently to talk to groups of current and potential students in the midst of an important life decision: whether to pursue a postsecondary education.

I spoke at Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Letter of Intent Signing Day. PCC participates in the nationwide event, patterned after signing day ceremonies for student-athletes.  Nearly 150 PCC and high school students pledged to pursue a credential at PCC in CTE disciplines ranging from Aviation Technology to Welding.

I also spoke to a group of about 75 seniors from Sunnyside and Desert View high schools who are taking part in the PCC Orientation Institute, which provides information and support to prospective PCC students.

Munguia

With Provost Dolores Duran-Cerda and Desert Vista Campus Student Services Manager Fernando Munguia, retiring after 34 years at PCC.

Of course, in my view, the decision is easy. Students should go to college, because, as I told the students at Signing Day, education will be essential to obtain meaningful employment. By 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Of those, 21 percent will require bachelor’s degrees. The rest are middle-skill jobs in a variety of technical and skilled-service fields, such as manufacturing and healthcare.

I understand that it’s also a time of ambiguity and uncertainty. Industry 4.0, the global economic upheaval encompassing technological advances in a multitude of areas, such as mobile technology, artificial intelligence, cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things, is proceeding with such speed most of today’s first-graders will be employed in jobs that do not currently exist.

But the depth and breadth of coming economic changes makes a lifetime of education even more important.  It all starts with college. As I said to the students at the Orientation Institute, my generation is counting on theirs to meet the challenges sure to arise as we progress through the 21st century.

Sunnyside High School automotive technology students take the Pima pledge.

Sunnyside High School automotive technology students take the Pima pledge.

Propelling economic development in Arizona

I am excited to note that last week Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a measure that represents a major leap forward for Pima Community College and for the economic development of our state.

Through newly enacted Senate Bill 1322, community colleges will be able to help Arizona’s workforce rise to the top of a brutally competitive 21st-century global marketplace.

It removes some caps on spending money necessary to develop career and technical education programs in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, nursing and aviation technology, and in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors. It also provides relief for community colleges engaging in entrepreneurial activities, such as entering into contracts with employers to provide workforce training.

The law does not raise taxes. In fact, it protects the interests of taxpayers by establishing a clear, transparent method for estimating full-time student enrollment used to calculate the College’s expenditure limitation. The law provides PCC with the financial predictability necessary for effective strategic planning.

SB 1322 passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. The Arizona Legislature and Gov. Ducey deserve praise for recognizing the legislation’s benefits to workforce and career readiness.

PCC joined with the state’s nine other community college districts in championing the legislation, but the effort would not have been successful without the backing of the area’s education, government, business and community leaders. Thank you for your ongoing support!

I am particularly proud of the way the College community stepped up, especially Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Dr. David Bea and Executive Assistant Carl Englander; Executive Director of Media, Government and Community Relations Libby Howell and Advanced Analyst Michael Peel; and contract lobbyist Jonathan Paton.

As Governing Board Chair Mark Hanna remarked last week in a message to the College community, “This success will translate into a stronger Pima Community College that develops and trains students to become future workers and leaders and in turn strengthen our community and its economy. You should be proud of your accomplishment and we appreciate your efforts.” Well said.

 

Secretary of Labor visits PCC, Tucson

Perez 1 cropped

Pima Community College was honored to host a visit Jan. 29 by Secretary of Labor Tom Perez. Secretary Perez joined me, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez, PCC Board Chair Sylvia Lee and other PCC leaders on a tour of our Aviation Technology Center (ATC). Secretary Perez also attended an event at our Downtown Campus regarding health insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.

During the visit to the ATC, Secretary Perez learned about initiatives PCC is undertaking through Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT), which is administered by the Labor Department. In September 2014, PCC received a $2,499,997 grant under the fourth round of TAACCCT, which enables community colleges to work with industry to develop training and education programs that will lead to high skill-high paying jobs. As part of the grant, PCC is partnering with business to develop a degree pathway in Industrial Technology that includes four short-term certificates. PCC also is adding short-term options to existing degree programs in Welding and Aviation.

At ATC, Secretary Perez attended a roundtable discussion with a cross-section of government, education, industry and workforce leaders. The takeaway from the meeting was clear: Community stakeholders need to coordinate their efforts to advance Career and Technical Education (CTE) as a ticket to the middle class, and that investments such as those made through TAACCCT make a difference. Mayor Rothschild noted that women, minorities and military veterans are among the populations that could make great use of this valuable education.

Superintendent Sanchez emphasized that the focus in education has been weighted toward making students college-ready over making them career-ready. The value of CTE is borne out by data. As the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce has discovered,

43 percent of young workers with licenses and certificates earn more than those with an associate degree, 27 percent of young workers with licenses and certificates earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree, and 31 percent of young workers with associate degrees earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

I pointed out the need for a state and federal governmental framework that offers flexibility in student aid and allows educators to offer industry-driven programs that keep up with oft-dizzying pace of technological change.

Secretary Perez and the group did hear from a veteran, Ashley Rodriguez, who served as a Marine in Iraq before graduating from the Aviation Technology program and getting a job with Bombardier in Tucson. Rodriguez forthrightly described the roadblocks she had to overcome to go from the military to PCC and her new career. Secretary Perez summed up what we at PCC know about Ashley – “You’ve got game,” the secretary said – and said he would seek to find ways to straighten the pathway to civilian training that veterans must often travel.

Many employees made Secretary Perez’s visit to the ATC a success. Tom Hinman, Advanced Program Manager at the ATC, led an informative tour that included stops at the center’s two 727s. [PCC is one of the few U.S. programs with hands-on training on commercial and regional jets.] Tom’s team did a first-rate job with the logistics of a multifaceted event. Joanne Kingman, Program Manager in Workforce and Business Development, clearly explained the grant, sharing our best practices and highlighting our partnerships with industry.

Dr. Morgan Phillips, who as president of the Desert Vista Campus is responsible for the ATC, moderated the invigorating discussion. Government Relations Liaison Michael Peel reached out and brought together the community leaders for the valuable sit-down.

Secretary Perez has said that community colleges are the “secret sauce” of workforce development. I believe his visit confirmed that PCC’s wise use of the federal government’s investment in Career and Technical Education is improving the lives of individuals and contributing to economic development, and that the recipe for continued success demands that all stakeholders in the community continue to work together.