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Isom: Learn West-MEC’s role in spurring Arizona projected job growth


A recent report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity projects employment in Arizona will increase by 721,689 jobs by 2030 and the most significant growth is expected across 10 “super sectors,” including gains in health services, construction, leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, manufacturing, transportation and utilities, and information.

The report suggests the highest growth rates will occur in the education and health services as well as the construction sectors with annualized growth rates of 3.2% and 2.7%, respectively.

The projections of Arizona’s economic growth and development is encouraging news for Arizona’s 14 career and technical education districts as they continue to train students for in-demand careers.

Western Maricopa Education Center, Arizona’s largest CTE district, is eager to continue its mission to prepare students today for tomorrow’s careers.

As the Arizona job market continues to grow, there may be an influx of individuals who are not yet qualified to join the workforce. West-MEC programs offer credentials so upon graduation, students are ready for employment. In the 2020-21 school year, West-MEC students earned a total of 4,179 industry credentials.

West-MEC offers programs at its four campuses throughout the Valley. All West-MEC’s programs address industry workforce needs across each of OEO’s identified “super sectors,” including programs in medical assisting, pharmacy technology, physical therapy technology, general construction technology, coding and IT security to name a few.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education in 2019, 30 million jobs in the United States do not require a bachelor’s degree. West-MEC students can fill these positions after graduating from high school, equipped with industry-required credentials.

Additionally, if a CTE student intends to pursue higher education, many are able to earn dual enrollment through a variety of West-MEC programs that transfer directly to college credit. These students are more likely to complete their college education than non-CTE counterparts. In 2020-21, West-MEC students earned over 3,449 college credits.

The current expansion of one of West-MEC’s central campuses and a potential future campus will serve to expand capacity to help meet future workforce demands.

Due to extensive market growth and an abundance of qualified employees, Arizona is attracting businesses from all over the world looking to take advantage of Arizona’s climate and population boon.

For example, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is building an estimated $12 billion semiconductor plant in the Phoenix West Valley, reportedly creating 1,900 new jobs. Intel’s expansion in Chandler, Electra Meccanica in Mesa, and Nikola Motors in Coolidge, are just a few of the industries contributing to Arizona’s unprecedented economic growth.

Given the Arizona OEO’s job growth projections, West-MEC and Arizona’s CTE districts will continue to play an important role in meeting future workforce demands.

CTE industry credentials and postsecondary degree pathways create highly qualified individuals for these new opportunities. Through CTE courses, students, both secondary and adult, gain in-demand and marketable skills, making them ideal candidates for employment. 

To learn more about West-MEC and the CTE courses offered, visit west-mec.edu.

Editor’s note: Spencer Isom is director of business development and government affairs at West-MEC.