Arizona launches ambitious education goal to boost workforce preparedness and opportunity

Posted on September 16, 2016 • Category: The Education We Need

When the Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) was established in 2002, it was a time of dynamic change in Arizona. The central question before us then and now remains the same. How can Arizona accelerate the rate at which it continues to bring economic prosperity, quality of life and opportunity to the people who live here? Nearly 15 years later, CFA has learned that to create “The Arizona We Want” we must have “The Education We Need.”

Arizonans view educational quality at all levels as one of the most powerful forces for improving the economic prospects of individuals and communities across the state. It is clearer now more than ever that Arizona’s economic prosperity is inextricably tied to increasing the number of Arizonans who hold a postsecondary degree or certificate.

At CFA, we focus on systemic change that will close the achievement gap, increase educational attainment, and prepare a highly-skilled workforce.  To attain our vision of an education system where every Arizona student is prepared for success in life and becomes a full participant and contributing member to society, we must accelerate the rate of innovation and fundamentally rethink everything we believe we know about schooling today.

We understand that we must challenge current assumptions about how we design and deliver education, and be open and flexible in our thinking. In order to succeed, we need to be united in our efforts and held accountable for a common goal.

This is why CFA is proud to partner with more than 60 community, business, philanthropic and education organizations to form the Achieve60AZ alliance to support a goal of 60 percent of adults ages 25-64 with a professional certificate or college degree by 2030.

Arizona’s current educational attainment rate is 42 percent, reflecting the percentage of individuals between the ages of 25-64 with a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree or higher.

High school is no longer the finish line. Occupations that once could sustain workers with no more than a high school diploma in a middle-class lifestyle now require individuals to have some postsecondary education. This trend will continue as more industries demand specific skills and knowledge to compete effectively in a global and technology-based economy.

Ensuring that 60 percent of Arizonans 25 and older have a certificate or college degree by 2030 puts us on a path to prosperity – for Arizonans and for our state’s future workforce and helps us stay competitive with other states.

To support the achievement of this critical goal, the alliance has outlined four key focus areas, which include:

  • Strengthening the K-12 Pipeline – Increase college readiness and high-school graduation rates

  • Completing Credentials – Implement policies to make it easier for Arizonans to finish their certificates or college degrees.

  • Increasing Access – Raise awareness about options beyond high school and make them more affordable.

  • Aligning Workforce Needs – Engage businesses, governments and educators to identify and close the skills gap.

Learn more about AchieveAZ60 at their website – On the website is an option to sign up to receive the latest news and join the effort to increase education for Arizonans.

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