SEPTEMBER 14, 2004
A strategic conversation of the Maricopa County Community College District Governing Board was scheduled to be held at 6:30 p.m. at the District Support Services Center in Tempe, Arizona, pursuant to A.R.S. §38-431.02, notice having been duly given.
Linda Rosenthal, President
Don Campbell, Secretary
Scott Crowley, Member
Nancy Stein, Member
Ed Contreras, Member
Earl Monsour for Ron Bleed
Kay Martens for Ken Atwater
Jim Van Dyke for Linda Thor
John Neibling for Art DeCabooter
Mary Kay Kickels
Jean Ann Abel for Phil Randolph
President Linda Rosenthal called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. and welcomed everyone present to the evening's Strategic Conversation intended to explore whether the Maricopa Community colleges were positioned to respond to future emerging and changing workforce needs of our business community. Mrs. Rosenthal acknowledged the presence of a colleague, Darrell Shumway, from Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas. She then turned the meeting over to Mary Lou Mosley, PVCC Senior Associate Dean and Chair of the Maricopa Occupational Administrators Council.
Ms. Mosley also welcomed everyone and paid special acknowledgement to the following people:
- Workforce Development Staff
- Occupational Deans
- Occupational Faculty
- Industry Representatives
Dr. Anna Solley came forward and stated that the Workforce Development Vision for the Maricopa Community Colleges read as follows: "To ensure that the Greater Phoenix region has a skilled labor pool, which meets the existing and merging workforce needs of the employer community." She further remarked that the white paper which was distributed with the agenda informed the reader of current and emerging workforce development and industry trends in Arizona and more specifically the Greater Phoenix region. It also identified potential challenges and opportunities the colleges may encounter in the near future. The white paper was intended to serve as the groundwork for the discussion this evening on how well the Maricopa Community Colleges are positioned for the future and had been developed in collaboration between our College Occupational Administrators and the Center for Workforce Development team.
Dr. Solley explained that the strategic conversation was providing an opportunity to convene our internal audience of college leadership and faculty and our external audience of industry and business employers for a discussion regarding our colleges' capacity to successfully meet the region's future needs. The conversation was planned in such a manner that four community experts had agreed to serve on the Workforce Development Panel this evening. These experts were representatives from the economic development community, biosciences, aerospace and high tech manufacturing, and homeland security. These four areas were selected to highlight changes in the economy, growth industries, changes in the high tech/aerospace industry, and the continuously increasing demands on homeland security. Each panel member would be allotted ten minutes to address the following four questions:
- What do you see as the workforce development trends in your industry?
- What are the knowledge and skill sets that will be needed in the future in your industry?
- What is one way the Maricopa Community Colleges can address your future workforce needs?
- What are some strategies to engage the business community and our colleges to address workforce development needs and issues?
Sharon Harper, CEO and President, The Plaza Companies, and former member of the Board of Directors for the Greater Phoenix Economic Council: Ms. Harper shared that her experiences have provided her unique insight to the region and what leaders can do to prepare. There needs to be a linkage between colleges and business. A business coalition has been in place since 2001 and their purpose is to look at ways of working together on the diverse economic needs of the region. They have developed a vision, action, and strategy, and now they need to move to the next level. Initiatives need to be developed to strengthen the economic base and develop a comprehensive roadmap for the second half of the century, with goals and directions charted out. Business and colleges must work together to accomplish this. The timeliness and flexibility of classes offered by the Maricopa Community Colleges are truly impressive to all. Economic development is changing and agility will be needed. Phoenix is in the running for many industries but the uncertainty of a talented labor market is a drawback. She stressed that it was important for arts and culture to be present to attract future industry, as well as innovative opportunities. This dialogue will help to begin the process of exploring how to meet these needs.
Pam Ross, Aerospace Business Partnerships Manager for Honeywell: Honeywell currently has a partnership with GateWay Community College and 21 students are enrolled. Engagement strategies include in-house partnerships, on-the-job training, and they look to the community colleges to provide instructors. There needs to be a consortium between the high schools, community colleges, and the business industry to provide training for the constant pool of employees and students coming into this field. It is important that students learn how to diagnose a problem and have a whole process under their belt. They need to have a broad knowledge and the community colleges need to be nimble and flexible and fast in responding to the needs of this industry.
Mara Strandlund, Human Resources Director for Propulsion Systems Enterprise of Honeywell Engines, Systems & Services: Ms. Strandlund explained that in their industry there are many retirement eligible employees. Change is constant and flexibility is crucial. There is a relentless focus on velocity and customization of products and standardization. In the past craftsmanship was important and the focus was on building one product. Quality is still very important, however, the skill sets require more step functions and changes. It is necessary that employees be prepared for these functions jumps. Entry-level positions are disappearing. High school, associates degrees, and bachelor's degrees are now necessary. The future will require multi-skilling in welding, machinery, broader base computer literacy and use of data in processes to improve products. Self-sufficiency in computer literacy will improve process ownership. Technical ability, teamwork, and continuous learning are very important
Dr. Ron G. King, Director of Technology Transfer for TGen (Translational Genomics Research Institute): Dr. King provided an imaginary true-to-life scenario involving the terminal disease of a loved one. Nothing has worked and the physician has indicated that the family must now prepare for what will come to pass. He then asked that everyone fast-forward to a time where a person could pull out something the size of a credit card and from that a custom treatment could be designed for that individual so that they could go home and enjoy the rest of their life. He commented that eight months ago a real patient received this same treatment at TGen. In order to accomplish this type of health treatment in the future for everyone, it is important that preparations be put in place today in the fields of bioscience, agri-science, bio-informatics, and systems thinking. He stressed that people must reframe their education and thinking to prepare for the requirements of pursuing these new technologies.
W. Tom Abbott, Battalion Chief, Special Operations and Emergency Management, Tempe Fire Department: Mr. Abbott explained that terrorism has been around for many, many years, however, it has become more prominent since 1993. He stated that it is important for law enforcement, emergency personnel, and public workers to partner together to meet the needs of homeland security. Workforce preparation for these careers needs to include education in natural sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, and computer systems. They also need to be team players. He commented that the community colleges can support emergency management programs by continuing to provide dynamic fire science training and continuing education programs.
Other miscellaneous comments by panel members included the following:
- Bio-informatics programs will require understanding of mathematical principles and applications, as well as expertise in bio-statistics. An understanding of biology and how molecules and genes react with one another will also be very important.
- Analytical abilities and development of computer software and programs will also be crucial. Latest computer languages and understanding of algorhythms will also be required for people going into the bioscience fields.
- 28% of Honeywell employees are at retirement age and it is important that the information they carry be passed on to the new workforce. New workforce needs new work skills and integrative processes, as well as a desire for continuing education.
- Retraining and preparation to work in different ways is crucial.
- Learn to be flexible and nimble technologically. Students need to come through the education process with a proper foundation in math and systems thinking. There is a need for systems thinking education and the ability to look across the process and bring everyone together towards a single goal. Need to work as partners.
Those present were then directed to break out into eight discussion groups based on colored dots affixed to nametags. During a 30-minute discussion period the groups would provide comments to two questions:
- Question 1 - What changes do we need to implement within our colleges and system to effectively meet the future workforce training needs of the Valley?. Their comments are attached.
- Question 2 - How should we keep our faculty current? How should we partner with business and industry to do so?
The groups reconvened at 8:15 p.m. for brief comments by Vice Chancellor Solley and Board Member President Rosenthal. Dr. Solley expressed appreciation to everyone for their attendance and commented that a report would be prepared from the information provided by the panel members and discussion groups.
The meeting concluded at 8:23 p.m.
Dr. Donald R. Campbell
Governing Board Secretary