How local colleges are helping Arizona’s economy — and you
It’s no secret that the worldwide economy has taken a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arizona is no exception. Unemployment rates have been particularly high, and the future of the economy remains murky.
“There is still a huge amount of uncertainty about the future of the outbreak and the economic impacts associated with it,” writes George Hammond, director of the Economic and Business Research Center at University of Arizona.
However, there is hope for recovery.
“Once the outbreak is under control, the recovery should be steady,” Hammond writes. “Arizona was in very good shape before the outbreak. However, it will take time to get back to pre-outbreak levels of economic activity.”
How local colleges are helping
While the state’s economy needs time to recover, it also needs jobs for people who have lost theirs or had their hours cut. Local community colleges want to help by training residents for well-paid positions which will, in turn, benefit the economy.
That’s why Arizona’s 10 community colleges are joining with business partners and communities to train and retrain workers to jumpstart the state’s economy.
“Arizona community colleges are the backbone of Arizona’s higher educational system, driving the economic engine and delivering an educated citizenry to meet the most in-demand jobs of today and the complexities of tomorrow,” according to a news release about the colleges’ workforce development program.
The community colleges serve nearly 300,000 students and “deliver a high-quality, low-cost education, prepare students of all ages across the state to be career-ready, and enable students for pathways to universities,” according to the news release.
How the program works
At one of the colleges, Central Arizona College, students pick from nine guided pathways that allow them to earn degrees or complete certificate programs in skilled fields in as few as four semesters. These pathways are divided into areas of interest with programs tailored for specific careers:
· Business and professional industries
· Nursing, health, and emergency careers
· Social/behavioral sciences and public service
· Computer technology, engineering, and math
· Biological/physical sciences and agriculture
· Communications and English
· Visual, fine, and performing arts
· Industrial technology and skilled trades
Certificates require fewer credits than degrees and may be used as steppingstones toward a degree or as an opportunity for specialization in some fields.
For example, in the business and professional industries field, CAC offers a baking and pastry certificate that prepares students to work in bakeries, restaurants, hotels, and so on. It requires 18 credit hours in classes such as food safety, nutrition, and cake decorating. Once complete, students can find a job or continue to earn a culinary arts associate’s degree.
The benefits of a college education are clear in many career fields, but some prospective students may be worried about affordability. The good news is CAC offers assistance with financial aid, scholarships, special benefits, and payment plans, so education is within reach for all who want to further their education. Career counselors and financial aid advisors make it their business to ensure students’ educations work for them.
For more information about how Central Arizona College’s certificate and degree programs can help job seekers and boost Arizona’s economy, visit CentralAZ.edu.