Economy • Local Business
CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION IS WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT by Greg Donovan, Superintendent, West-MEC
Because of our stateof-the-art facilities, businesses like PepsiCo and Corning Gilbert have worked with us to create trainings specifically for their employees.
lendale is a city where people can live, work and play. Every day I drive by State Farm Stadium on my way to West-MEC’s corporate center. I see homes being built across the street from my office. When I visit WestMEC’s (Western Maricopa Education Center) Central Campus, Conair’s new distribution center stands tall across Glendale Avenue. And when I talk to our students, I am reminded of what role career and technical education (CTE) plays in the city’s fabric. CTE is workforce development. CTE programs, whether taken at a West-MEC campus or at a student’s home high school, provide critical career training and certification preparation. This means high school students are graduating with the credentials they need to go right to work. When students decide to pursue postsecondary education, they have a leg up on their peers. A 2016 Fordham Institute study shows that CTE students are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a twoyear college, be employed and earn higher wages. The Central Campus, located next
GLENDA G LENDALE LE LI LIV VING ING • BIZ!
to Glendale Municipal Airport, is the home to six programs: aviation maintenance technology, avionics and drone electronics, coding, law and public safety, precision machining and welding technology. Every program has an advisory council that invites business and industry to be part of the learning process. Members of the advisory council make suggestions for what equipment to invest in, share popular techniques being used in the workforce, provide scholarship and internship opportunities and promote career and CTE in their industry. West-MEC’s primary mission is to serve high school students, but CTE is valuable to all. Adult students can enroll in such certification courses as welding, aviation maintenance and precision machining at the Central Campus. These hours-based programs are designed to accommodate work schedules and do not adhere to typical semester schedules. Because of our state-of-the-art facilities, businesses like PepsiCo and Corning Gilbert have worked with us to create trainings specifically for their employees. We are proud to partner with Project SEARCH for one-year school-to-
work programs focused on empowering young adults with disabilities. Project SEARCH interns learn job skills at three sites: Renaissance Phoenix-Glendale Hotel, Core-Mark ADC and Luke Air Force Base. Once you see a few of our campuses, you’ll notice a theme — they’re bright orange. That’s on purpose. I’ll never build a beige building because West-MEC is not your typical public school experience. We understand that the traditional “sit-and-get” model of teaching doesn’t work for everyone. In its place, West-MEC takes a four-step approach focused on hands-on instruction, leadership training, career-based experiences and classroom learning. Technical skills are important, but so are the less tangible ones like the ability to communicate well, take responsibility and adapt to change. Together, these attributes create good citizens, employees and entrepreneurs. It creates the workforce of tomorrow. When I leave work today, I’ll drive through this great city with pride in my heart knowing CTE helps make Glendale an attractive place to live, work and play.
THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EDITION • SUMMER 2019