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CAC Hosts Arizona Advanced Technologies Corridor Industry Skills Summit

CAC Hosts Arizona Advanced Technologies Corridor Industry Skills Summit

by Angela Askey | Central Arizona College

[NEWS RELEASE] Earlier this month, Central Arizona College hosted the Arizona Advanced Technologies Corridor Industry Skills Summit. More than 80 college representatives and manufacturers participated in the one day technology session.

Central Arizona College, Maricopa Community College District, and Pima Community College heard from companies such as Raytheon, Intel, Lucid Motors, Abbott Nutrition, Honeywell, and others. The industry leaders in the room represented more than 18,000 employees and more than 400 years of personal experience in the manufacturing industry.

A primary input from the industry leaders was their concern about finding the skilled workers on which their success relies. A special technology-enabled process captured every response from the event’s participants.  In February, the three community college districts signed a charter to create a uniform curriculum to support the advanced manufacturing sector in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, and the findings from this event are being used to inform that effort.

Trevor Stokes, Workforce Program Manager with the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity stated, “Industry partners were appreciative and provided kudos to the colleges for doing something out of the box to address their needs.” He added, “The value of the manufacturing sector to our economy cannot be overstated, and we are very optimistic about these developing partnerships.”

The group offered perspectives on the needed personal competencies and technical skills graduates should have as they enter the workforce and provided input as to what the curriculum should look like.

The group was able to draw some valuable conclusions:

  1. Attitude and teamwork were identified as critical skills for every stage of a manufacturing career.
  2. A large majority of participants are optimistic about the future of their industry in Arizona.
  3. Manufacturing employers value personal and interpersonal skills like work ethic and verbal communication very highly, especially in entry-level positions.
  4. The value of a manufacturing career is not only in the entry-level position, but also in the likelihood that with a little perseverance, an individual can move quickly into more sophisticated and much higher-paying roles.
  5. The manufacturing career of the future will require a willingness to learn and develop expertise in multiple disciplines.
  6. Certifications from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills are valued at every stage of career progression.

Following is a sampling of the questions asked during the session and the corresponding responses provided by industry leaders:

What is the single most critical factor in the success of a modern manufacturing company?

Factor Rating
Maintaining safe work environment 9.5
Always focused on quality 9.2
Strong work culture 9.1
Engaged leadership 9.1
Attracting/developing the right skills 8.9

Answers (on a 1-10 importance scale):

What skills are more necessary in today’s manufacturing environment than they were ten years ago?  What will be more important ten years from now?

Skill Rank: more important now than 10 years ago Rank: more important 10 years from now
Computer skills 1 X
Soft skills 2 2
Collaboration and teamwork 3 5
Communication skills 4 1
Robotics and emerging technologies 5 4
Cross-training and adapting to change X 3

Overall, how would you describe your outlook on manufacturing/advanced technologies in Arizona?

Response Percentage of responses
Optimistic 77%
Middle of the road 18%
Pessimistic 3%

Participants also were asked to profile their entry-level, mid-level and senior production positions in terms of the personal, foundational and technical skills needed to be successful. This exercise proved helpful in developing a baseline for the key skills and competencies required for each position level. It showed the importance of personal competencies and a willingness to learn and demonstrate team and project leadership. The ability to advance is shown to be based on technical skills.

For further information regarding the Arizona Advanced Technologies Corridor Industry Skills Summit please contact Trevor Stokes at trevor.stokes@oeo.az.gov or 602-771-0480.

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