Arizona ranks 40th in the United States for the number of adults age 25-34 that hold bachelor’s degrees, according to a report from the Arizona Board of Regents. The state’s poor showing has prompted warnings that Arizona could lose jobs to neighboring states due to an under-educated workforce, leaving only lower-paying jobs that are also the most likely to be threatened by automation.
Rachel Yanof, the executive director of Achieve60AZ, a nonprofit with the goal of seeing 60% of Arizonans holding a college degree or equivalent by 2030, says the state must decide what it wants for the future.
“Arizona could double down on being a low-wage, low education state, and then we become a state that can’t sustain ourselves,” she told The Arizona Republic.
For a state of its size, Arizona has relatively few options for higher education. There are only three large private universities, one public one and several smaller colleges throughout the state. And a large portion of the state’s population would be first-generation college students, which can make navigating post-high school education even more challenging.
It isn’t just traditional four-year colleges that need more development. The state has a shortage of qualified workers in careers like plumbing and electrical work, which often require additional education programs after high school.