TREO CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE
What is your perspective on the importance of talent and workforce development as a key economic driver?
We are now in a knowledge economy, where industries follow the workforce as opposed to the other way around. With the increasing pace of innovation and the intensity of global competition, the quality of an organization’s workforce has become a prime determinant of whether it survives or fails. Likewise, the quality of a region’s workforce is a prime determinant of whether or not there are plentiful high-wage jobs and a strong tax base. Why does Arizona State University invest in and support economic development initiatives?
ASU is a public university whose mission – as a public trust – includes serving as an economic engine for Arizona. We produce more highly skilled college graduates – by orders of magnitude – than any other institution. That makes us a major supplier of the human capital necessary for Arizona’s economic growth and prosperity. We are also interested in making sure there is an ample supply of high wage, attractive jobs so students will remain in Arizona after they graduate.
Regarding the TREO Blueprint Update, why is the committee you serve on in this strategic planning initiative important to you?
Businesses in Tucson and throughout the Sun Corridor are having trouble finding qualified employees because of the level of education or training required in the knowledge economy. To address this, all elements of the Arizona educational pipeline must be strong, including K-12, community colleges and universities. Quality-of-life issues are also important to the modern workforce, especially the “creative class” that Richard Florida has shown to be a key driving force for economic development in U.S. cities. Quality-of-life issues include having libraries, museums, performing arts venues, symposia and lectures, as well as continuing education for employees and educational options for their children.
Arizona State University
What is the outlook for ASU and higher education in 2014?
At ASU, we have two principal products – education and research. In 2012, U.S. college enrollment declined for the first time in six years. In Arizona, enrollments have continued to increase – due to an overflow of qualified students from California combined with moderate tuition increases and high levels of financial aid for those with financial need. On the research front, cuts in federal funding are an issue for all research universities. At ASU, we are continuing to compete for and win federal projects and programs at a high level, and we are diversifying our portfolio by pursuing corporate and international projects.
Winter Winter2014 2014 > > > BizTucson 85
The Tucson Region's Business Magazine