Top educators make the case for job creation - Tucson News Now

Top educators make the case for job creation and keeping skilled workers in AZ

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Some top Arizona educators say the state needs to make its workforce more attractive to the high tech and other employers of today and tomorrow. 

When companies decide to come to a state, or even stay in a state, educational opportunity is high on the list of things they consider.

It's not just finding skilled, educated workers, but also finding a place that meets the educational needs of employees' families.

In a state where public funding of education is among the lowest in the country, there's a challenge.

Arizona's public university system plays a huge role in a business' ability to find qualified workers to help the business grow.    

Universities can help attract and help keep talent in the state.

Talent development was the topic at a Wednesday luncheon hosted by TREO (Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities), an economic development agency.

The keynote speakers were University of Arizona President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart and Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow.  

"The economy is changing very very rapidly and a lot of the most innovative and thoughtful people who we need in Arizona are going to want an environment that they think is open to the innovations that will make them successful," Hart told KOLD News 13.

Crow explained what he would tell those gathered at the luncheon.

"I'm going to focus on the talent necessary for the economy here to be more creative than other economies and more adaptive than other economies. Whoever wins that contest--creativity and adaptability--they win," Crow said.

When the presidents of Arizona's two biggest universities are talking about talent development and the drain of talent from Arizona, you get a big crowd.

From government to private employers, about 1,000 people went to hear them speak.

They heard that economic growth and education are intertwined.

Success in education leads to economic success.

Some have said Arizona must make choices about whether it wants to be a place where salaries stay low and talent leaves.

Hart was asked if there's a danger of Arizona becoming that place. 

"It's absolutely a danger," Dr. Hart said. "It's like not repairing the roof of your house because you're not thinking about the fact that it actually might rain and the monsoon will come. There are some decisions that must be made in order to protect us for the future."

"We've got to convince the public sector and the private sector to up their game and drive more from the perspective of performance, to invest more and expect more," Dr. Crow said. "We've got to get past the old models, move into the new models. Got to get people to stop complaining and stop whining and start focusing on how to design a new system."

Hart said universities must offer the programs that students want and students must be prepared to succeed in those programs.

Crow said innovation and creativity actually attract investment. He said that message needs to be instilled in Arizona's public education system across the board.

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