This time of year usually means one thing: graduation! Whether students are graduating from high school, community college or from a university, a new crop of talented and motivated individuals is entering the workforce. Workforce development has become a top-three priority for the Tucson Metro Chamber, and we are very excited to unveil our Workforce Blueprint and the five strategies that will bolster our region’s competitiveness and economic vitality for years to come.
Employers of all shapes and sizes and from every industry imaginable grapple with the issues of talent sourcing and talent development. Over recent years, employers across the spectrum have consistently reported difficulties finding, hiring and developing qualified talent.
Similarly, our region will not be able to attract, retain and develop the high-quality employers we desire as the foundation of our regional economy without a workforce that is prepared with the skills, knowledge and experiences necessary for success in the 21st Century workplace. Site selectors and businesses looking for a location for expansion or relocation increasingly cite the available workforce as a key differentiator.
The Tucson Metro Chamber commissioned the Workforce Blueprint to enable a regional approach to the issues associated with the region’s workforce and the talent development ecosystem. While the Chamber is not a direct provider of education or workforce development services, this initiative is intended to leverage the Chamber’s role as the voice of business and position the Chamber as the “air traffic controller” for workforce and career-driven education efforts in the region.
The following are the five recommendations, assembled by an expert Steering Committee, to bolden our region’s workforce development and talent attraction acumen.
Employers, educators and business organizations in the Greater Tucson Region should consistently support innovative education-industry partnerships, including a system of high-quality Career and Technical Education aligned to the needs of the business community.
“At Pima Community College, we worked directly with TuSimple, an autonomous trucking technology company, to create a program that teaches the exact skills their employees need to complete their tasks. For our region to succeed, it is critical to establish more of these education and industry partnerships,” stated Dr. Ian Roark, vice president of workforce development and strategic partnerships for Pima Community College.
A collaborative of regional employers and stakeholders should fund and launch the Tucson Move IT Up Initiative.
“As a provider of healthcare for our community, many believe we just need more patient care talent. Medical skills are crucial, but an increasing importance is finding IT talent to maintain the integrity of our patient records and ensure our networks are secure. Every company in every industry is an IT company needing this level of expertise in IT and cybersecurity,” stated Judy Rich, CEO of Tucson Medical Center.
The Tucson Metro Chamber, in conjunction with Pima County and the City of Tucson, will establish the Tucson Employer Development Program.
“We are proud to partner with the Chamber in recognizing local employers who champion workforce development within their organizations. These companies lead by their example and will ultimately encourage other employers to follow suit,” stated Barbra Coffee, director of Economic Initiatives for the City of Tucson.
The Greater Tucson Region should organize efforts to effectively highlight the career opportunities in the region and attract high-level talent in critical industries.
“Attracting talent to our region is simply a necessity for Modular Mining and many of our employers in Tucson. Working with companies and partners to focus our collective energy on attracting talent will benefit us all,” stated Jorge Mascena, president & CEO for Modular Mining Systems.
The Greater Tucson Career Literacy Initiative should organize business and community leaders to bring information, connections and exposure related to high-quality careers into Pima County’s classrooms.
“The Center for the Future of Arizona is proud to partner with the Chamber on this important effort. Middle school, high school and early post-secondary students should understand what the pathway to their career they are interested in pursuing,” stated Dr. Aaron Ball, director of college and career pathways for the Center for the Future of Arizona.
No challenge before us is more critical to the long-term economic success of our community than equipping the workforce on which our businesses rely. So, while many of us are celebrating the graduations of individuals we personally know, our entire community should be celebrating and supporting those graduates who are entering the workforce and their new ideas that will help our region continue to flourish.
Learn more at tucsonchamber.org/blueprint.