As a business leader, and the leader of an organization that focuses on workforce development, I’m proud to be in a community that is anchored by a strong community college system.
The Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC) system is more than just a community college system for our region. It’s a lifeline. The ten-college system serves as a bridge between secondary and post-secondary education for some students and provides resources to develop career interest and much needed soft skills. For others, it’s a place to receive a formal certificate, while already working in their field. And, for many more, it’s their first stop as they re-enter formal education.
The MCC system—the largest community college system in the country—serves a unique purpose in our community and acts as a workforce developer with the ability to reach multiple populations.
In 2017, MCC served more than 110,000 students. Of those students, approximately 30 percent attended full-time and 70 percent attend part-time. More than 34 percent of students are considered “non-traditional,” 38 percent have no college or university experience and another 29 percent have some college experience, but don’t hold a degree.
At a Phoenix Chamber event last year, I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation with Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges District. During her remarks, she highlighted the fact that community colleges offer education access to all people seeking it. MCC prepares people to attain success on several paths.
In fact, in addition to being a community educator, the colleges also serve as workforce developers. The Workforce Development Department acts as a liaison to the business community and helps connect employers to training services for their employees or potential employees.
MCC works with the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s employer-led workforce collaboratives to develop curriculum that prepares students for real-life jobs in compliance and risk management, financial services, construction and cybersecurity.
As a key component of their workforce development program, MCC created guided pathways to connects students to potential careers and identify the needed coursework to jump start their career trajectory.
Our region’s community colleges are making an impact. MCC moves Phoenix forward by connecting students to education and training opportunities that prepare them for jobs in our community.
In spite of several challenges, including a complete withdrawal of state funding in 2015, the colleges saw a 14 percent increase in the overall number of degrees and certificates awarded. Thanks to innovation, strong leadership and community support, the colleges are doing more with less and growing their impact.
Our business and community leaders are proud of the education and workforce training that happens at all ten campuses. As the Greater Phoenix Chamber and the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation continue to support businesses and workforce development efforts, I look forward to continuing to partner with MCC to build the economy we want and need for our entire region to thrive.