Scientex Packaging Film
Phoenix STEM Workforce is Supporting US Manufacturing Growth

Phoenix STEM Workforce is Supporting US Manufacturing Growth

March 10, 2017
The Phoenix region has the third largest labor pool in the West with 42,000 students graduating annually from Arizona State University, and 200,000 students enrolled in the Maricopa Community College system.   

Last month the largest chip maker in the world proclaimed that by investing in manufacturing at its Phoenix area location it would “help the U.S. maintain its position as the global leader in the semiconductor industry.’

Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel sees the $7 billion investment in an advanced high-volume factory, known as Fab 42, as a way to increase R&D in the U.S. and ensure that the” pace of Moore’s Law continues to march on, fueling technology innovations the world loves and depends on.”

The investment will create 3,000 high-tech jobs and will have an exponential effect resulting in 10,000 long-term jobs in Arizona due to the impact on businesses that will support the factory’s operations, according to Intel.

While that is a large number it’s nothing that the area can’t handle. The region has the third largest labor pool in the West. Each year about 45,000 students graduate from the Arizona State University  and 80% of these students stay in the area. The university’s  STEM programs are part of more than 500 community engagement programs across the greater Phoenix area that are designed to tap into and inspire early STEM interests, from 84 summer programs to, internships and K-12 activities.

And the community college system is robust as well. In the 2015-2016, around 200,000 students enrolled in credit and non-credit courses at a Maricopa Community College. Recently the Grand Canyon University announced it aims to have 70% of its students in STEM majors by 2020. And more than 50 universities and other institutions of higher learning are located in the area including Northern Arizona University and the University of Phoenix.

“As Arizona is projected to rank fourth in over overall STEM jobs, over the next 10 years, the Greater Phoenix area is supporting that goal by having a strong dialog with the business community and the educational institutes across the board (from elementary to post-graduate) to ensure we are providing the right skills,” explained Chris Camaco, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

To support this objective in January the community held the 21st Century STEM: Integrate to Innovate Conference, which was comprised of three days of professional learning for PreK-16 educators, informal educators, business partners, and community leaders in all areas of STEM.

And that talent will have abundant opportunities with companies such as Abbott Labs, Boeing, Coca Cola, Frito Lay, Honeywell, Freescale, Medtronic, Orbital, TRW and UTC aerospace having plants in the area.

The strength of those companies are being leveraged to attract companies in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector and sensor application technologies. By 2027, planners hope the area will be recognized as a sensor cluster in key European, Asian and North American markets, attracting global companies to the region.

Global companies already have a presence in the Phoenix area with more moving in. In fact earlier this month Malaysia’s Scientex Packaging Film bought a manufacturing building in Phoenix that will serve as its first entry into the U.S. market. Scientex makes industrial stretch film used for consumer packaging, solar products and automobiles.

Scientex is part of more than 1,000 global companies with locations in the Phoenix area. And that number is sure to grow, according to economic planners. With more than 85% of global growth through 2019 projected to occur outside the United States, “global engagement is a necessity if cities want to catalyze both their economies and their workforce", according to The Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

And to make sure Phoenix is prepared for the economic impact, the group last week announced the release of the Metro Phoenix Global Investment Plan, a global trade and investment plan that outlines specific steps local business, civic and government leaders can take to leverage exports and foreign direct investment to grow global engagement.

The global outreach, which will further strengthen the manufacturing sector, will require the region to continue its investment in STEM-related education pushing it towards its goal of being recognized as a top STEM market.   

See Also A Closer Look at STEM Collaboration in Phoenix

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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