Report: Arizona needs to get more high school and college graduates to fill available jobs | Explore wellness
Arizona will issue far fewer bachelor’s degrees through the end of the decade than it takes to fill jobs, according to a new report presented at The Future of the Workforce, a discussion sponsored by the Dashboard MAP from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management on Thursday, April 21.
“Arizona is at an inflection point in its economic trajectory with a relatively low college completion rate and growing labor demand for workers with bachelor’s degrees,” the Advancing report notes. Arizona’s Economy: Investment in Workforce Development.
Ron Shoopman of the Arizona Board of Regents warned that because of this low graduation rate, Arizona will not have enough people to fill the jobs created by development in the private and public sectors of the Arizona.
Advancing Arizona’s Economy: Investment in Workforce Development report estimates that Arizona will issue 26,300 fewer bachelor’s degrees than the economy needs each year through 2030.
“Last year, Arizona companies imported, hired and moved to Arizona 19,000 people with four-year degrees to fill jobs they couldn’t fill with people in Arizona who couldn’t. weren’t willing but probably just not qualified,” Shoopman said. .
Shoopman, however, doesn’t blame the Arizonans. He said it goes back to what the Board of Regents found in 2019: Arizona has a 79% high school graduation rate. One in five students in Arizona does not graduate from high school.
“We know … if you don’t have a high school diploma, you probably don’t have a job,” Shoopman said. “Less than half of the people in the state who don’t have a high school diploma are unemployed.”
Shoopman said the report made it clear that Arizona needed to do better with its students and prepare people for the job market. However, Shoopman said Arizona doesn’t need to direct students to four-year colleges. He said state leaders also needed to focus on certification programs, community colleges and trade schools.
Jennifer Pullen, senior research economist at Eller College‘s Center for Economics and Business Research, said a surplus of available jobs in Arizona has grown significantly since the early months of the pandemic. In January, Arizona had 241,000 open jobs in Arizona, up 80,000 jobs from February 2020, according to Pullen. Although Tucson was slower to recover those jobs compared to Phoenix, the statewide unemployment rate for March was 2.9%, a 23-year low.
“There are mainly two reasons why the unemployment rate is falling: either these unemployed people find a job or these unemployed people leave the labor market,” Pullen said.
Pullen speculated that many people chose to retire during the pandemic or left the workforce to care for themselves or their families. Skyrocketing house prices have also boosted homeowners’ net worth, which could allow them to stay out of the labor market for longer periods. Migration must also be considered as part of the equation, although international migration has declined during the pandemic. Pullen noted that inflation could bring workers back into the job market.
Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert said the job market is changing to match new trends.
“We’re moving from a first-curve society, the industrial era, to a second-curve era, which is a knowledge-based digital era and central to that is this notion of skills,” Lambert said.
The overwhelming statement from every presenter and panelist is the urgent need to prepare Arizona’s workforce for the jobs the state is creating.
Mister Car Wash CEO John Lai said during his appearance before the panel that investing in early education is the obvious answer to the impending increase in job openings.
“There is a revenue issue,” Lai said. “We need to pay teachers more or invest in our K-12 school systems and we are not doing that. The high school graduation rate was shocking. It is a precursor to college.
According to the Board of Regents report, Arizona is currently at an inflection point where jobs are growing too quickly for people to fill vacancies. Shoopman said it’s imperative that the state prepare Arizona’s next generation of students and workers by investing in the education system to retain students in the system.