Arizona: Focused On The Gold Standard For Talent
In Pinal County, Arizona, an innovative new workforce training program is providing students with more than just skills—it’s offering a career and the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It makes me fulfilled coming home, like I’ve done something at work rather than clocking in and clocking out,” said Vicente Procela, one of the thousands of students to enroll at Drive48, a unique, public-private training facility.
A collaboration between industry, government, and academia, Drive48 represents a first-of-its-kind workforce development model, one that’s attracted national attention. At the facility, students receive hands-on training in the field of automotive manufacturing from instructors based at Lucid Motors, a luxury electric carmaker that operates an advanced assembly plant nearby.
Multiple high-tech robots, the same found on Lucid’s assembly line, occupy the main training room, where technicians learn programming, maintenance, problem solving, safety, and system requirements. The facility also includes several smaller “dojo” rooms that offer small group training with tools, part assembly, and more.
“My son seeing that I’m going to college, at the age I am, gives him a better perspective,” said Fernando Perez, another Drive48 student.
Advanced manufacturing skillsets come in high-demand in the Grand Canyon state. In the automotive sector, Arizona has witnessed five groundbreakings for electric vehicle manufacturers since 2016. In just the last four months, the state has announced five battery manufacturing expansions, including a $5.5 billion expansion from South Korea-based LG Energy Solution to build a manufacturing complex in Queen Creek, also in Pinal County.
To meet the demand, and prepare for future expansions, the Arizona Commerce Authority is finalizing plans to develop a network of “Drive48”-modeled facilities. With collaboration from industry and local community colleges, the state is planning six additional training centers in sectors including semiconductors, battery manufacturing, aerospace, and more.
“Arizona is pioneering workforce solutions for global advanced manufacturing leaders, and we’re doing it at scale.”
“Our job is to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate industry needs five and 10 years down the road,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona is pioneering workforce solutions for global advanced manufacturing leaders, and we’re doing it at scale.”
Arizona’s training pipeline is powered by a steady infusion of new talent. For the second year in a row, Maricopa County, which encompasses the Phoenix region, led all counties in population growth throughout the U.S. last year, adding 56,831 residents. That’s over 11,000 more people than second place, Harris County, Texas. Arizona’s population gains correspond with its growing workforce, which saw the sixth-fastest growth over the last year.
Arizona’s innovative talent programs combined with its rapidly growing population give it an edge no state can match. With talent the top priority for manufacturers, expect industry and state leaders alike to continue to look to Arizona as the gold standard of talent development.
Visit ArizonaCommerce.com for more information.