Ducey: College, trade school education improves Arizona economy

Gov. Doug Ducey said a university or trade-school education adds to the Arizona economy at a news conference at Franklin Police & Fire High School. (Photo by Alejandro Barahona/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants high-school graduates to attend traditional colleges or trade schools, saying nearly 70 percent of jobs in less than five years will require more than a high-school diploma.

“The message is clear, additional workforce training or education beyond a high school diploma is a must,” Ducey said, meeting with other Arizona leaders last week to discuss challenges the state faces in meeting the demand and shortage in the labor force.

A coalition of business, education and nonprofit leaders said they want to increase college or trade school graduation to 60 percent of Arizonans by 2030. Now, only 42 percent of Arizonans have a trade-school certificate or university degree, according to the coalition, Achieve60AZ.

The Arizona economy improves when higher education is achieved, Ducey said, adding that if 60 percent of Arizonans ages 25 to 64 received a certificate or college degree, $3.5 billion would be added to the local economy.

Ducey, who spoke at Franklin Police and Fire High School, said K-12 students also need more information about career opportunities available to them to encourage them to attend a university or trade school. He spoke at a news conference as students, educators and community leaders looked on.

The governor also said that nearly 26 percent of adult Arizonans have some college or technical training but no degree.

“We need to help these non-traditional students, that are often unemployed or underemployed, to complete their education,” he said. Ducey believes this will help students prosper as individuals and also provide more career opportunities.

Programs such as the nonprofit Achieve60AZ, work with more than 60 community, businesses, colleges and philanthropic organizations to help achieve a goal of 60 percent of Arizonans receiving a college degree or certificate by 2030. And currently, an estimated 42 percent of Arizonans hold a certificate or degree, as per Achieve60AZ program.

Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein believes leaders need to make sure higher education is available and affordable.

“We are finding new ways to make all students successful no matter what walk of life they come from,” Klein said. “It also means we have to keep focusing on tuition. We will do that. We have stabilized tuition and we are going to hold down those tuition increases.”

Also, Klein said, more students realize “higher learning means higher earning:” college graduates will earn 70 percent more than those with only a high-school diploma.

Klein recognized veteran Cornelius Maxwell, who has benefited from programs such as Achieve60AZ. He served eight years in the Army, and decided to further his education at Universal Technical Institute. He hopes to open his own automotive shop one day.

“I’ve always been interested in the automotive industry, working on cars, and since I’ve had the opportunity now to take advantage of it, I said, ‘Hey I’m going to go ahead and take advantage of it’,” Maxwell told Cronkite News.