Summer is a time of transition for many individuals and families in Arizona as thousands end one leg on their educational journey and try to determine their next steps for seeking meaningful career paths. Increasingly, individuals at career or academic crossroads are looking to community colleges to gain skills or better align existing skills with employer needs. However, employer needs have shifted dramatically over the past two years and the need to reskill or upskill is increasing. That’s where Maricopa Community Colleges have stepped in.
“The Great Resignation of the past year has resulted in large numbers of employees leaving the labor market, but they may not be dropping out of the workforce completely,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Interim Chancellor for the Maricopa County Community College District. “Many are using this time to reassess their careers; looking to make a shift to a job that is more fulfilling allows them to meet their personal goals, achieve work-life balance, and reset expectations for what a high quality of life means.”
Meanwhile, this trend is leaving gaping holes and a skills shortage in the workforce. For employers, it’s likely to worsen before it gets better. They need workers able to hit the ground running, with hands-on skills and the ability to contribute immediately. Many companies such as Banner Health and Farmers Insurance* say they will even overlook the completion of a degree altogether if the candidate has relevant experience and skills.
The answer for both — employers seeking qualified candidates and individuals seeking different career paths — may lie in community colleges and their vast certification options.
“Maricopa Community Colleges meet these needs, providing students with the skills and experience employers are currently looking for. We offer non-traditional, comprehensive programs taught by passionate faculty who take their real-life experience and apply it to the classroom, providing students with hands-on skills, internship opportunities and pertinent certifications that allow both young graduates and adults in long-term careers to make big changes quickly through reskilling or upskilling,” explained Gonzales. “Community Colleges are essentially the right player at the right time and place to help the United States move successfully through this disruptive economic shift, seeing this time instead as an opportunity for The Great Reskilling.”
MCCCD’s vast number of specialized programs for in-demand careers that require certification and licensure include healthcare, information technology, construction trades, accounting, culinary arts, and forensic science, to name a few.
“Businesses are drawn to the region by the pipeline of educated workers,” said Chris Camacho, President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “The programs offered at Maricopa Community Colleges align business needs with experiential learning, so students are ready to contribute after completion with a short time to business value. With certification and licensures, meeting industry needs from healthcare to semiconductor, the collaboration between higher education and the business community ensures a healthy stream of talent feeds and sustains our diversified modern market.”
Examples of Reskilling through Maricopa Community Colleges:
1. First Lady Jill Biden recently celebrated Maricopa Community Colleges’ accelerated Semiconductor Technician Quick Start Program with Intel that prepares community college students for a career working as a semiconductor technician. The innovative two-week, 40-hour program provides tuition reimbursement to eligible participants and offers graduates an opportunity to interview with Intel for a full-time position. The program is available at Mesa, Estrella Mountain and Chandler-Gilbert Community Colleges.
2. Electric Utility Technology at Chandler-Gilbert Community College is designed to prepare the student for the position of an apprentice-level line worker familiar with the use of tools, materials and equipment in the electric utility industry. This certificate is embedded in the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Electric Utility Technology. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers make an annual median wage of $86,000+ in Arizona.
3. Dental Hygiene degrees at Mesa Community College, Phoenix College and Rio Salado College prepare students to become licensed dental hygienists who assist people with their oral health. Graduates can earn an annual median wage of $87,460+ in Arizona.
4. Another example, J-STD soldering at MCCCD, provides a student with the ability to demonstrate the assembly of soldered components per J-STD requirements. Successful completion of this certificate may lead to employment in a variety of different occupations and industries, earning an annual median wage of $37,180+ in Arizona.
5. MCCCD’s partnerships with local companies provide more opportunities for already-employed students. Employees at Empire Southwest may receive college credit for corporate training through Mesa Community College and go on to complete a bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University. Empire employees gain business insights and develop skills needed to rise to leadership positions at Empire.
In Spring 2020, MCCCD launched 16,638 graduates into roles that directly impact the local workforce and have added more than $7.2 billion in income to the Maricopa County economy. Maricopa Community Colleges offer the benefit of flexible schedules and affordable costs that allow learners to continue to work or attend to personal obligations while earning certifications and degrees.
Gonzales added, “Additionally, there will soon be opportunities to complete a bachelor’s degree in high-demand fields — as early as Fall 2023. This is just one more example of MCCCD’s capability to nimbly respond to rapidly evolving workforce needs and empower individuals with the skills they need to immediately succeed in their chosen career path.”
Learn more about reskilling or upskilling and how Maricopa Community Colleges can quickly facilitate significant changes in career trajectory at maricopa.edu.