There are many reasons for business to move to Arizona or for a business to exist here and flourish. However, over the past two decades, as economies and opportunity grow elsewhere, Arizona has lagged in the critical area of education and now finds itself with a dramatic skills gap — a result of actions and inactions on the part of business organizations, city and state governments, and especially our education system.
We all know that a quality education is critical for success in the 21st century. The ability to add value in the work place is the key determinant to a good salary, and education is key to adding value. At this time, Arizona ranks rather poorly in all aspects of education, whether it is K-12 quality, the percentage of our work force with a university degree (especially in the hot areas of math, science, engineering and technology), or the quality and quantity of our vocational training programs. Certainly we have pockets of excellence in all areas of education, but, on average, we are failing our young people and consequently not generating the quality work force we need to compete around the world. This fact is not lost on companies looking to expand their operations in Arizona. The number one issue with expansion plans is always the availability of a quality work force, and education is the number one issue with workforce quality.
When questioned, all Arizonans understand the importance of education to our future, but all too often the gap between reality and what we need is as wide as the Grand Canyon. The public, the business community, our education leaders and our political leaders have to face the hard facts. If we want a vibrant economy with good-paying jobs and opportunity for our young people, then we have to focus on the twin pillars that Michael Crow at ASU has eloquently prioritized as his top challenges: quality and quantity. We need to educate more students at higher quality if we want to succeed. Just comparing ourselves to the school or state next door is insufficient. We need to compare and improve our educational system to the best in the world.
In this issue of In Business Magazine, Sue Kern-Fleischer digs into this subject of a skills gap that is hampering growth and opportunity for business and for our work force. She speaks with top business leaders, members of the Governor’s Council on Workforce Policy and others who are vested in strengthening our education, training and workforce efforts to develop our plan to fill this skills gap and ensure that Arizona is a leader in industry and economic prosperity. On other pages, Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell explores business and legal aspects of developing a franchise or being involved in one. She speaks with both franchisor professionals and franchisees in a variety of industries. And this month’s “Trickle Up” focuses on John Leonesio, himself a successful franchisor whose leadership has energized The Joint…the chiropractic place.
In Business Magazine continues its focus on education for businesspeople at all levels of business. In this issue, Kathy Heasley of Heasley & Partners finalizes her six-part series on branding by revealing top steps to implement systems to build business. Mike Toney of Conquest Training Systems continues his series on sales with insights on key distinctions in developing the right kind of sales team for different types of business.
I am pleased that In Business Magazine is focusing on issues that affect our business community. Bringing issues to the surface and presenting them to our business community are important steps in creating change.
I hope that you will enjoy this issue.
Craig R. Barrett
Retired CEO/Chairman of the Board
Craig R. Barrett, Ph.D., received his doctorate degrees in Materials Science from Stanford University, and served on the Stanford faculty after graduation. His studies include a NATO postdoctoral fellowship at the National Physical Laboratory in England. A leading advocate for improving education in the U.S. and the world, and a vocal spokesman for the value technology can provide in raising social and economic standards globally, Dr. Barrett chairs Achieve, Inc.; Change The Equation; and Dossia. He serves as international co-chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Council; is chairman of the Governor’s Arizona Ready Education Council; is on the faculty of Thunderbird School of Global Management; and is a leader on numerous other boards, policy and government panels.