Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work in partnership with Maricopa Community College recently hosted the Arizona Sun Corridor Regional Convening for the Future of Work. Virtual meetings were held on September 17th and September 24th with over 50 organizations from industry, education, and government represented to discuss the skills future technicians will need to meet the demands of America’s workforce.
The U.S. is facing a growing skills gap that will impact its long-term economy and prosperity. The workforce does not have an adequate pool of skilled labor to meet the demand. Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work is a project funded by the National Science Foundation and works to bring industry and educators together to collaborate regionally, within and across disciplines, on the transformation of associate degree programs to prepare U.S. technicians for work of the future.
One of the project’s strategies is to promote regional collaboration by conducting convenings across the country. By engaging regional stakeholders and leaders, the needs of industry can be identified and prioritized at the local level. Resources and vehicles for meeting those needs can be explored with industry, educators, and local workforce at the table.
Hope Cotner, President of CORD, opened the convening with a word of welcome followed by introductory remarks from two key planning committee members from Maricopa Community College, Leah Palmer, Executive Director of Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute and Diane Meza, Director of the Maricopa Information Technology Institute-East Valley. Daniel Barajas, District Deputy Chief Director for Workforce and Economic Development for the Maricopa Community Colleges District also extended his greetings and support for the convening goals.
Ann-Claire Anderson, Principal Investigator for Preparing Technicians, then offered an overview of the project’s work to date including the recently released report “A Framework for a Cross-Disciplinary STEM Core” which is the culmination of research and interviews with industry professionals identifying the specific cross-disciplinary STEM skills critical for technicians in the future of work. It also includes strategies and recommendations for adoption of the Framework.
Over the course of the two-day convening, SME’s presented on topics aligning with the Framework’s three categories: Data Knowledge and Analysis, Advanced Digital Literacy, and Business Knowledge and Processes.
David Aguirre of Gateway Technical College presented Digital Technician: The Digital Transformation of the Modern-Day Technician. John Sands of Moraine Valley Community College discussed Tomorrow’s Workforce: Leading Through Disruption, and how it relates to skills in Advanced Digital Literacy. Donald McCoy, STEM Education Consultant and retired IBM Global Workforce Development and K-18 Diversity Pipeline Programs discussed The Convergence of Skills: Business Knowledge and Processes, Technical Skills, and Essential Workplace Skills.
Featured panelists from the region included Aaron Osmond, US Lead – Education to Workforce Team with Amazon Web Services and Kolu Wilson, Workforce Administrator with Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity.
The convening concluded with a discussion about next steps and actionable items to further the work including road-mapping existing systems for integration and instruction on the cross-disciplinary STEM core skills. Attendees who indicated they would like to participate in a regional network will work together to expand upon these goals.
Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work is a project funded by the National Science Foundation (DUE #1839567) and administered by the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD). For over 43 years, CORD has been creating innovative educational tools and programs that empower faculty to prepare students for success in postsecondary education and careers.