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  • Supervisors approve workforce development plan

    Jun 25, 2020 | Read More News
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    Workforce development is economic development.

    That’s one of the guiding principles of the Workforce Investment Board of Pima County (WIB), whose 2020-2023 development plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors on June 23. 

    The WIB, with a 45-person panel comprised of business leaders, educators and nonprofit representatives, collaborates with a vast array of community alliances and oversees the ARIZONA@WORK Pima County One-Stop Career Center.

    Simply put, the WIB connects job seekers to training and then to employers, opening up career pathways and meeting the demands of existing businesses and those that might consider relocation to the County.

    The previous plan focused on identifying and quantifying growth sectors, while the emphasis on the 2020-23 plan is centered on the next step – the allocation of training resources, especially in a volatile employment environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Incoming WIB chairman Mark Vitale said more than 2,000 training resources available through the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL) will be re-examined by the board every quarter in an effort to stay flexible in a fast-moving world.

    “We are looking at this much more proactively than we have previously,” said Vitale, the current vice-chairman who was elected to replace Aric Meares, whose two-year term as chairman expires at the end of June.

    “We want to remain current and effective with how we distribute the dollars from WIOA (the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) and make sure we’re directing them toward opportunities that will develop our community in the short and long term. 

    “Part of this was due to recent events and the pandemic, and everyone needing to re-evaluate what they do and how they do it, but not all of it. There was some work being done in this direction before all that became a thing.”

    WIB retreatThe plan includes a two-year projection for broad in-demand occupations in Pima County. They are:
    1. Healthcare/Health Sciences
    2. Business Management, Operations, Support
    3. Production/Aerospace/Defense/Security
    4. Construction, Building/Grounds Maintenance, Installation, Repair
    5. Transportation/Material Handling/Logistics
    A sixth category, Vitale said, would be “Emerging Technologies,” which is also an underlying thread common in every category.

    Here’s a practical example:

    Pima Community College, a key training/education partner that has representation on the WIB, is putting in a new advanced automotive program to train those to repair the “smarter” cars of today and tomorrow, including electric vehicles.

    “These technologies are already here in limited quantities,” said Vitale, who is the Campus and Academic Director for the University of Phoenix Southern Arizona Campus.

    “But what if you purchase a Chevy Volt and it needs service. The options are very limited, as opposed to a more traditional vehicle. So Pima is putting in this program to support that industry, and we’re going to be developing mechanics who know how to service those kind of vehicles. That’s a great example of an emerging technology we would want to support.”

    According to the approved plan, the Pima County WIB will pursue its vision of "Quality Jobs, Qualified Workers" through the following goals:
    1. Assisting people to obtain jobs in strategic industry sectors
    2. Supporting employers in finding and hiring qualified employees
    3. Engaging underrepresented labor pools by removing barriers to employment
    That dovetails with the mission of the Pima County One-Stop, which has been part of the Community Services, Employment and Training (CSET) department. CSET is consolidating with Community Development and Neighborhood Conservation (CDNC) to be known as Community Workforce and Development (CWD) on July 1.

    “The strategies from the WIB have positively influenced our economic development,” said Arnold Palacios, who leads CSET and will be the director of CWD. “With the situation we’re in with COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to rely on our partnerships, find solutions together and better serve everybody.”

    Vitale notes recent pre-COVID-19 growth in the logistics sector and sees optimism.

    “Look at our logistics sector, all the new distribution centers – Target, HomeGoods, Amazon. For manufacturing, we have Caterpillar now. Comcast has one of its major Southwest technical support centers in Tucson,” he said.

    “We need to have more of them at our community workforce development table because there is a mutual benefit to doing that. I think part of our idea of reinforcing the effectiveness of who is on our ETPL extends to engaging that aspect of our community more aggressively than we have in the past.”