By Chris Haines, M.Ed.
Scottsdale’s economic engine continues to hum along thanks to the unique collection of businesses that comprise “The West’s Most Western Town.”
Being able to find qualified local workers at a period of record low unemployment is keeping many executives up at night. Workforce development — training in necessary occupational and technical skills — are critical areas of focus so that local enterprise can find the talent needed to remain competitive.
Sure, anyone with a high school diploma can find some type of work today. Yet, those willing to invest even just two years for an associate degree can earn substantially more than a high school diploma only ($44,824 vs. $37,960 annually, respectively, according to median weekly income levels, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018).
At Scottsdale Community College, we deliver extensive career and technical education degree and certificate programs that reflect future employment needs in the Airpark and beyond.
Tourism and hospitality are a perfect example whereby students can immerse themselves in programs ideally suited for what Scottsdale employers are looking for: hotel, restaurant, golf, spa and wellness center and tourism development and management. A natural complement to this is studies in the culinary arts and we offer several areas of specialization here.
Today our graduates are working in leadership and occupational positions at many resorts and restaurants across the Valley, not to mention all of Arizona.
As businesses continue to relocate or expand operations here, as well as grow organically, the need for skilled workers in computer information systems is only increasing. Our students learn in a state-of-the-art virtual data center (funded by a multiyear grant from the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation) where they are encouraged to break technology systems and platforms off-the-grid and then instructors help them piece everything back together. While teaching based on “safe” curriculum templates have their place, through this journey our students receive invaluable real-life work experience that can be applied immediately.
In addition to earning more traditional degrees, our business and computer information systems offerings include many certificate programs where taking just one or two courses can help working professionals develop new skills and that means opportunities for career advancement and higher pay.
As a leading destination for retirees from the around the world, health care and prevention are key concerns for our community. SCC’s nursing program boasts a two-year waiting list, while degree programs in nutrition, yoga therapy, exercise science, personal training and recreation management, for example, are educating the next generation of health and wellness professionals.
Scottsdale is home to a booming equine industry, including the prestigious Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and our equine science degree programs help educate students on recreation, racing and competition while some graduates use their degree as a pathway into veterinarian care.
As the only two-year public higher education institution located on Native American land, SCC enjoys a strong connection to the Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community. The new Indigenous Cultural Center on campus celebrates Native American culture while SCC features degree programs in tribal development, tribal court and American Indian studies.
Our leadership team continues to research future employment needs by partnering with local businesses to fully understand trends shaping the workplace. For example, new programs launching in the Fall 2019 semester include entrepreneurial studies, organizational management, meeting and event management and Arizona’s first online real estate program designed to prepare students for pre-licensing.
Offering the specific degree and certificate programs required by local enterprise helps ensure SCC is training students for Scottsdale’s employment needs today and tomorrow. ν
Chris Haines, M.Ed., is interim president of Scottsdale Community College, a Maricopa Community College. For more information, phone 480-423-6700 or visit scottsdalecc.edu.