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  • Region must work cooperatively for effective workforce development

    Mar 14, 2014 | Read More News
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    The problem: There are literally hundreds of high-quality jobs available in this community right now going unfilled because there aren’t qualified workers to fill them.none

    The solution: Strengthening strategic collaboration between business advocates, such as local Chambers, schools and ongoing workforce development efforts.

    That was the consensus of a several Chambers of Commerce leaders in a panel discussion at the Pima County Workforce Investment Board Friday morning.

    Mike Varney, the President and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, said the community really needs two things: More jobs and the qualified workforce to fill them. “We’re not just talking high-end PhD positions, but positions up and down the ladder. The vocational trades right now are the segment of our workforce with the greatest opportunity and where we are lacking a qualified workforce.”

    While the leaders credited the work done by Pima County’s One-Stop System, an employment and training network, they indicated there is more collaborative work to do.

    Dr. Manny Valenzuela, who serves as the Superintendent of the Sahuarita Unified School District and sits on the Board of the Green Valley-Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, said he has been meeting with major private employers, including the mining industry, and vocational educators on a monthly basis to find out what skill gaps exist and how his district can help. As a result of those discussions, he said, the district plans to offer courses in industrial technology, heavy equipment operation and diesel mechanics.  “I trust my business partners that this is what they need,” he said.
    Dave Perry, the President and CEO of the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the need for a comprehensive, regional approach was in evidence at a recent celebration when Securaplane Technologies, a supplier of avionics products, moved into Oro Valley’s Innovation Park in December. Of the roughly 180 employees, only about 20 of them raised their hands when asked if they live in Oro Valley, he said. From Tucson? About 100.

    “For me, it was really reinforcement that this is an entire region – and that people live and work in different places. And we have to ask ourselves how we’re going to accommodate that reality.”