Workforce Training During COVID-19

Pima Community College Offers Skills to Advance

By Tara Kirkpatrick

In an uncertain economy, Pima Community College’s Workforce Development programs are equipping people with critical skills to do and find the best job possible.

The COVID-19 crisis has only expedited the programs’ importance in Southern Arizona.

Today’s most lucrative and in-demand jobs are highly skilled and tech-driven. Even before the pandemic, PCC has been part of an aggressive regional response to meet these workforce needs of companies and drive economic development in Southern Arizona.

“The college has been responding to the shifts in the labor market that require workers to build up their technical skills,” said David Doré, Pima’s president of campuses and executive vice chancellor for student experience and workforce development. “The current crisis only accelerated what we were already doing, allowing us to respond quickly with new programs and initiatives.”

PCC’s workforce development programs help companies train employees to master new technology and offer dislocated workers the chance to “re-skill” to nab better, higher-paying jobs. Valuable local partnerships make this possible, Doré said. “Pima partners extensively with industry in order to ensure that all our training programs align with their needs.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCC expanded its short-term training programs in transportation, logistics, construction, manufacturing, health sciences and information technology sectors – areas that lead directly to employment, Doré said. “The skills in these areas will become more important as Pima County moves into recovery.”

For example, PCC will launch a Google IT Support Professional Certificate program – an online, five-month course that helps students begin an IT career. The course includes fundamentals such as troubleshooting, system administration, customer service and security.

“This program and others meet the challenges posed by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 and gives dislocated workers virtual access to short-term training that leads to high-wage career paths,” he said.

PCC is also developing several short-term certifications in construction and manufacturing, including HVAC, torque multimeter, precision measurement, mechatronics and more for rapid re-training. Logistics and supply chain management, which have emerged as critical factors during the pandemic, are also offered. 

Students and workers take these classes online. In response to campus closures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, more than 2,000 courses were moved online.  “Everything that can be taught online has been moved online, thanks to our innovative and dedicated faculty and staff,” Doré said. “Students will return for hands-on skills training when we are able to safely return to campus.”

PCC’s adaptability during the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates the college’s flexible approach to delivering education. “We start with training that delivers skills just in time,” Doré said. “Employers provide input into each program of study, ensuring we are focused on the most valuable skills for a particular industry, making our students more in demand when seeking employment.”

“I want to express my gratitude to the Workforce Development team, as well as all of our employees and students for adapting quickly to the circumstances of the pandemic. We know the coming months will be challenging for Tucson,” Doré said. “We will be there for our community and employer partners, addressing their training needs, as well as for displaced workers preparing for new opportunities.”

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