Jobs of the future
Pima and the state’s other community colleges are well-positioned to help, after recent efforts to train lower-skilled workers for high-tech jobs of the future, said Ian Roark, vice president of workforce development and strategic partnerships at PCC.
Pima had already shifted educational and training priorities to prepare students for a rapidly changing labor market, due to the impact of “industry 4.0” — the evolution toward increased automation, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity — and other factors, Roark said.
“Interestingly and sadly, the same sorts of occupations that are most vulnerable to change or displacement due to automation are the same ones that were hardest hit by the pandemic, and thus the same population groups and communities are disproportionately impacted,” he said.
And Arizona’s community colleges have been collaborating on programs to help students train for higher-paying, technical jobs of the future, under a workforce development initiative launched by the Arizona Community College Coordinating Council about two years ago, Roark noted.
One recent example is the Google IT Support Professional certificate program offered by Pima and seven other Arizona community colleges in June.
The nationally accredited, three- to six-month program can be completed online and teaches troubleshooting, network protocols, cloud computing and encryption algorithms for entry-level jobs as an IT support specialist.
“We already had the essential building blocks of partnership and collaboration to help ‘working learners,’” Roark said, noting that about two-thirds of Pima students attend school part-time while working.