Rise in high-tech jobs presents workforce challenge

January 12, 2006

By hammersmith

About 5,000 jobs for technicians will open up in the Valley over the next few years, challenging businesses and educational institutions to boost efforts to train and retain qualified workers. That’s the message of an extensive study of high-tech manufacturing in Maricopa County conducted by Maricopa Community Colleges, Salt River Project, and Battelle.

“Competing with Talent: High Technology Manufacturing’s Future in Greater Phoenix,” surveyed five high-tech sectors: aerospace and defense; advanced materials; electronics and instruments; information and telecommunications services; and semiconductors and computer hardware. It concluded in part that the future of Maricopa County’s high technology manufacturing industry lies in training a strong and qualified workforce and recruiting and retaining workers.

“Maricopa County must do more to address the growing need for technicians,” said Walt Plosila, vice president of Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice.

The study will form the basis for a plan of action to educate, employ, and retain high-tech manufacturing workers in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Foremost on the list of proposed actions is the creation of a high-tech manufacturing workforce advisory board to work with the community and industry partners.

“Our vision is to establish the greater Phoenix area as a premier location for high-technology manufacturing within the next 10 years,” said Mary Vanis, director of the Maricopa Community Colleges Center for Workforce Development. “Our commitment is to continue training skilled workers who can contribute to the vitality of the high-tech industry and the state’s economy. Results of this study will be used to plot a course for that.”

Battelle conducted a similar study on bioscience workforce needs for the Maricopa Community Colleges in 2003.

For more information:

Valley schools urged to boost tech efforts,” Arizona Republic, 01/13/2006

Competing with Talent: High Technology Manufacturing’s Future in Greater Phoenix” (full report)

Study findings

PowerPoint presentations