Arizona Digital Free Press - Logo

Shoeleather Journalism in the Digital Age

Shoeleather Journalism
in the Digital Age

Bucking trends and paving the path for a skilled workforce at South Mountain Community College

Education leaders contend increasing the number of adults completing degrees/certifications brings huge financial benefits to the state, drives economic growth, builds strong communities, and creates recession resiliency. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress)
South Mountain Community College hosts education leaders Thursday, Sep. 21
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Education Forward Arizona President and CEO Rich Nickel joined local dignitaries yesterday to celebrate a collective commitment proponents say will help significantly advance the number of Arizonans pursuing higher education and training opportunities in the state.

The recent event at South Mountain Community College commemorated local investment in the development of a skilled-labor pipeline for burgeoning Arizona industries. Those in attendance included:

  • Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Chris Camacho;
  • Banner Health Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Julie Ann Alvarado-Dubek;
  • South Mountain Community College President Dr. Richard Daniel; and
  • McCarthy Building Companies Vice President Mike Gonzalez.

“Our healthcare sector has surpassed 300,000 employees, and with the projected growth there’s going to be an overarching demand for healthcare positions and individuals,” said Greater Phoenix Economic Council President and CEO Chris Camacho. We are the semiconductor hub of the United States, and to continue bolstering that position we need to emphasize the growth of our construction sector, which is 150,000 employees strong today. There is no better time than now for the business and education community to come together, to dream big, and to meet that goal of 500,000 new credentials to ensure that we can meet our Achieve60 goals.”

The gathering of education thought leaders was designed to focus on the urgent attainment problem facing Arizona while calling attention to the opportunity the state has to create a larger pipeline of home-grown, skilled workers to fuel long-term economic stability.

“Today, the business community is stepping up to say that they agree that increasing both degrees and workforce certifications in Arizona is essential to our state – but more importantly, to say that the work of increasing education beyond high school doesn’t belong just to the education community,” Mr. Nickel said. “It’s also the work of the business community. What you see behind me is the first draft of the Business-Education Compact for Arizona. It’s an evolving, public agreement that commits to breaking down the walls between business and education – and rolling up our sleeves and working together.”

photo of education thought leaders at South Mountain community college
The recent event at South Mountain Community College commemorated local investment in the development of a skilled-labor pipeline for burgeoning Arizona industries. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)
South Mountain Community College hosts education leaders Thursday, Sep. 21

In 2021, only 47.3% of Arizona high school graduates enrolled in postsecondary education programs (compared to 46.8% in 2020). The data is even more startling for students from racially and ethnically diverse populations: 41.3% for Hispanic/Latino students, 46.3% for African American students, and 31.8% for Native American students. More than half of White students (52.7%) enrolled in post-secondary programs.

“As the human resources leader for Banner Health, with over 50,000 team members, I have a personal investment in ensuring we are able to attract and retain employees now and in the future,” said Ms. Alvarado-Dubek.

“Arizona health systems have made great progress to rebuild staff since the height of the pandemic, but with the rapidly expanding population in Arizona, we must ensure we are preparing the healthcare workforce of the future. I want Banner’s future nurses, technicians, and doctors to come from my home state of Arizona – where we can deliver exceptional health care to the members of our own communities. Banner Health hosts 83% of Arizona’s clinical nursing rotations. We have hosted 5,000 nursing students YTD and have expanded clinical capacity by being creative with our academic partners as they grow their programs to create more opportunities for degree and certification attainment.”

In order for 60% of Arizona adults to have a college degree or certificate by 2030, the state will need approximately 500,000 more adults with a postsecondary degree, certificate or license in the next seven years. Increasing the number of adults completing degrees/certifications brings huge financial benefits to the state, drives economic growth, builds strong communities, and creates recession resiliency.

“The entire team at South Mountain is extremely pleased to share that we are seeing a significant resurgence in our enrollment for the first time since the pandemic,” said Dr. Daniel.

“Our full-time enrollment has seen a 16.4% increase compared to last year; this enrollment growth leads the Maricopa Community College District. This isn’t happening by chance or by luck. It’s happening because we’re being intentional. We’re focused on broadening our postsecondary programs and our relationships with K-12 districts in South Phoenix. Our construction trades institute is helping. And so is South Mountain’s focus on dual enrollment programs, along with Gov. Hobbs’ leadership in expanding the state’s investment in dual enrollment. We’re also introducing new, innovative learning opportunities and business partnerships.”

South Mountain Community College, which is bucking the trends of declining community college enrollment, is achieving double-digit enrollment increases this year, which officials say is a credited to dual enrollment expansion and partnerships with local employers to offer innovative, hands-on programming that is accessible for all students.

“Women deserve to be in the construction trades,” said recent South Mountain Community College graduate LaHesuia Ferguson.

“South Mountain Community College’s Construction Trades Institute gave me the opportunity to put my dream into reality. I had not worked in construction, electrical or plumbing before coming to South Mountain Community College; I had worked with the airline and mortgage industries. Going through these three programs gave me the hands-on skills and confidence to not only work in these trades, but it also gave me the opportunity to pursue my ambitions. I was inspired to learn because I wanted a better life for my kids and my grandkids. I am proud to say that not only did I complete all three courses, but I achieved a 4.0 grade point average in all of them. My plan is to use what I learned here to write a business plan that will help me secure a grant with the state to build low-income housing for families in South Phoenix.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category Sponsor

Learn About the Author

Published On:

Category Sponsor

FastTrack_F23_336x280 (1)

Newsletter Sign Up

Scottsdale Daily Beat - Logo

Could we interest you in Local News That Matters? How about Enterprise Business Reporting & Real Property & Homes?

SUSD Ad
KBM DFP Ad 1 copy 2
Leon Law
Cover_Spring 2024 SUSD Showcase magazine
Western