Coalition Bridges Gaps to Ensure Equitable Access to Career Readiness

Arizona industry leaders in career development, educational institutions, and employer partners are joining together to launch the Arizona Coalition for Career Readiness. The coalition’s goal is to advance Arizonans’ quality of life with career development opportunities to help meet the workforce goals outlined in Achieve60AZ, an initiative that aims to help 60% of Arizona adults attain a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.

“Meaningful career exploration and development starting in middle and continuing through high school and college results in more successful employees because students are fulfilling their own goals and pathway choices,” said Katherine Pappas, senior vice president of Pipeline AZ. “Not all Arizona students have access to local career information and the knowledge of how to connect to learning opportunities to help them get there and we are dedicated to changing that.”

Founding coalition members include Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC), Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA), Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA), Valley of the Sun United Way, and Pipeline AZ. The Pipeline AZ career development and exploration platform is a singular hub for the coalition’s work around building comprehensive career pathway information in Arizona.

These five organizations have collaborated to ease workforce transitions and bridge existing career journey gaps by combining resources and expanding outreach and programmatic efforts.

This includes MyFutureAZ, an initiative with Pipeline AZ, CFA, ABEC and the Arizona Department of Education, to give k-12 students enrolled in Arizona public schools access to Pipeline AZ’s toolkit.

“The ACCR alliance is a promising step towards creating a future where everyone can pursue personally rewarding careers that are also advantageous for Arizona’s economy,” said Aaron Ball, director, college & career pathways liaison at Center for the Future of Arizona. “We’re proud to partner with all the coalition members on this full-force effort to streamline access to resources, ensure that all students from kindergarten through college can explore their college and career interests aligned with the state’s talent demands, and contribute to building a stronger, brighter future.”

“Technology, cybersecurity, construction and heavy equipment are among the fastest growing industries seeking new talent,” said Jim Zaharis, executive vice president at Arizona Business and Education Coalition. “ABEC is proud to partner with ACCR to support their efforts to connect students to these organizations and fortify the future of the Arizona workforce.”

JA has also aligned some of its programs with the MyFutureAZ platform to best serve its students.

“When we work together, not only is our impact greater, but the process is more efficient for educators and administrators,” said Anne Landers, chief operations officer, Junior Achievement of Arizona. “ACCR will empower students to gather essential information about career support and planning to prepare them for an increasingly global and technologically advanced workplace.”

The Opportunities for Youth Grant through Valley of the Sun United Way and Pipeline AZ provides Arizonans aged 16-24 who are not working or in school with expanded access to education and employment opportunities such as hands-on, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and mentoring experiences.

“Arizona, like much of the nation, is experiencing significant and persistent disparities in educational equity. Rural communities are among some of the most underserved students in the state, and this coalition will utilize its collective resources to improve outreach in these areas,” said Melissa Boydston, Ed.D, senior vice president of community development and engagement at Valley of the Sun United Way. “We’re honored to be a part of this effort as we work to close opportunity gaps, help students prepare for career success, and open pathways to better paying jobs.”

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