The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Arizona State University an $8 million grant to lead an innovative workforce development partnership to help train workers for high-paying, high-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and information technology (IT).The One Workforce grant will help address a critical skills shortage in the U.S. by establishing the Arizona Workforce Training Accelerator Partnership for Next Generation Jobs (AZNext). The program, which will be led by ASU and its many partners, is designed to train at least 2,000 participants, with a goal of achieving industry-recognized credentials and permanent job placement over the next four years.
The grant was a collaboration of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and several external partners, including Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Technology Council, [email protected], Infosys and Pipeline AZ. The partnership leverages the state’s educational and employment resources to create the workforce of the future.
“The grant program enables ASU to help the unemployed/underemployed find meaningful careers in fast-paced industries,” said Raghu Santanam, chair of the Department of Information Systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business and principle investigator of the grant. “It will also create career opportunities for underrepresented populations in technology-focused industries.”
AZNext is designed to use a combination of multidisciplinary and industry-relevant training, with multiple insertion points for degree-seeking or nondegree-seeking learners. ASU will leverage programming from multiple colleges and enterprise units, while industry employers will leverage paid internships, train-to-hire programs, boot camps and simulated work experiences. AZNext will also build on another grant-funded program through ASU’s business school: Digital Workforce Apprenticeship Partnership, which was established through ASU’s first department of labor grant to help close the skills gap in America’s workforce.
One of the many goals of AZNext is to build a workforce development model that not only works in Arizona but can be applied in other states — eventually upskilling all of America’s workforce. ASU’s partnerships with agencies like Arizona Commerce Authority, which leads economic development and workforce programs across the state, will be critical in this effort.
“Talent is often the key driver in business location decisions,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of Arizona Commerce Authority. “Through AZNext, Arizona is further enhancing our workforce and helping ensure a ready supply of talent to fill the highly technical and advanced jobs of tomorrow. We look forward to working with ASU and other partners on this important initiative to advance Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy and create new opportunities for Arizonans.”
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