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High Tech Investment As An Engine For Economic Growth In Southern Arizona

2759 words - 12 pages

There is a far-reaching problem in the Arizona community. Despite the draw of sunny weather and beautiful landscapes, the state is unable to attract enough brainpower to fuel the economic climate. Arizona definitely has the potential to be a major player in the new knowledge and idea-based national economy. Currently ranked 10th in the nation for progress into the New Economy (The State Economic Index), Arizona supports seven high tech clusters, one of which, optics, has been "a world model in cluster economic development" (Barber). However, this situation is ephemeral. Pima County, especially, is struggling to keep high tech businesses in the area due to a lack of the most crucial commodity ...view middle of the document...

Some of these businesses include Raytheon Systems, Bombardier Aerospace, Sunquest Information Systems, Honeywell, IBM and Texas Instruments. It is essential that these businesses work in conjunction with local schools to ensure that there are enough qualified workers to meet their needs. Raytheon Systems, a major defense contractor, has tried combining its efforts with Pima Community College and the University of Arizona to help meet their particular educational demands. Through this collaboration, Raytheon is guaranteed competent local workers on a yearly basis. A stunning 5% of this country's engineering graduates are employed at Raytheon each year. Joseph Coyle, Vice President of Human Resources and Communications for Raytheon Systems explained the reason for Raytheon's success: they currently enroll employees and potential employees in 800 specialized courses both in-house and in collaboration with the University of Arizona and Pima Community College (Kolbe, et al). Raytheon's plan has succeeded in providing a pool of qualified workers for its own needs, but the plan is not universally feasible. Sunquest Information Systems, a company that develops and supports clinical information systems, has taken a different approach to acquiring employees: they look beyond the local workforce. A large number of their employees need to be trained in specific technical fields, like systems specialization and computer science and languages. The problem that arises is that most of these skills are honed in the field through actual job experience, which make it difficult for a graduate student to jump right into the work force. Therefore, many out-of-state, even out-of-country employees are hired. Though Sunquest looks to the U of A's computer science department for potential employees, their lack of synergy with area schools forces them to search elsewhere (Vaughan). The University of Arizona is one of the most important local resources for training qualified workers. Dr. John Taylor, Dean of the College of Education, coordinates the U of A's strategies for cooperative education and training. The U of A has established significant partnerships with local K-12 schools as well as with Pima Community College (Kolbe, et al). Although there have been several successful programs established, Arizona has fallen to 37th in the country for percent of adult population with a college degree suggesting that not enough workers have a comprehensive formal education (Muro). There are programs that accommodate the needs of those without formal education, allowing them to enter the workforce, such as ITT Technical Institute and the Fred Acosta Job Corps, however, high-tech companies usually require more than an associate degree for potential employees.Pima County Community Services has developed workforce training programs that offer opportunities for low wage workers to acquire the skills necessary for higher paying, high tech jobs. High Tech High Wage...

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