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Preparing the workforce for Arizona's recent boom in technology careers

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Posted at 4:40 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 08:43:29-04

PHOENIX — The unemployment rate in Arizona is still higher than where we were before the pandemic, with the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing the state around 6.7% in their preliminary March 2021 data.

See a breakout of national unemployment rates in the map below.

While some industries are still struggling, the technology and construction industries are actually having trouble filling jobs.

Google executives tell me about how nearly 2 million technology jobs are sitting unfilled.

RELATED: Google offers certificate program to get into high-demand careers without college degree

Locally, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce said Arizona will likely experience a shortage of nearly 230,000 workers by 2024 who are needed in construction and trade professions.

Companies are continuing to come here. Intel is spending $20 billion on new facilities. There is also Apple, Boeing, Google, Offerpad, Carvana, and many more who have operations in the state.

A recent report from the Computing Technology Association, known as CompTIA, estimated our state's technology industry generates nearly $35 billion in economic impact and ranked Arizona #8 in the nation for job growth with 2,500 positions added in the industry in 2020. They anticipate Arizona could nearly triple those gains this year.

"Arizona offers the complete package," said Patrick Ptak, of the Arizona Commerce Authority. "We have a highly-skilled workforce on top of a very fast and large population. We have modern infrastructure. We have a low-cost business environment with a light regulatory touch. We have proximity to some of the world's largest markets in California, Texas, Mexico."

RELATED: Arizona among top states ranked for economic momentum, report says

Senator Mark Kelly toured one of Intel's facilities in Chandler on Thursday after a visit to a Valley elementary school.

I asked him, how do we get people trained for the in-demand careers in technology and trades?

"That's a perfect question," said Sen. Kelly. "That's why I was at an elementary school earlier today... meeting with these little kids, right? Kindergarten through probably fifth grade, at that school specifically, to make sure that they are excited about science, technology, engineering, and math."

Sen. Kelly said that pipeline needs to be created earlier.

When we asked if Arizona was equipped now to educate, he said yes because of the education systems like our public universities, community colleges, and trade schools.

"We've got to... double down our investment in these programs," Sen. Kelly said.

Google offers their own Career Certificate program. Participants can complete their training and start working in certain parts of the industry without a college degree. Check it out here.

Build Your Future Arizona with the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce has a variety of resources to help connect you to variety of high-paying trade positions. West-MEC is also a school where high school students and adults can receive training in dozens of different areas. Learn about their programs here.