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By Dolores Tropiano

Hot CareersSolar energy. Semiconductors. Aerospace and defense. Optics. And bioscience and health.

According to the Arizona Commerce Authority, these are key industries in need of the most qualified workers, now and in the near future. And many Mesa colleges are providing degrees to match those demands.

“All of these emerging industries have a multitude of careers within them,” said Rosalyn Boxer, vice president of Workforce Development, for the Arizona Commerce Authority. “These are great industries that everyone can fit in.”

Leah Palmer added advanced manufacturing to the list, particularly in the East Valley. Palmer, director of the Center for Workforce and Community Partnership at Mesa Community College, works closely with companies in the Mesa area to determine their specific workforce needs.

“Our Manufacturing Institute was designed specifically with their growing needs in mind. We listened and responded to industry,” she said.

Bill Jabjiniak, Mesa’s Director of Economic Development, worked with countless East Valley companies while creating the Center for Higher Education, which features two legacy colleges and universities, Westminster and Wilkes, under one roof in Downtown Mesa.

He discovered that nearby companies needed individuals with degrees in finance, technology, and engineering, as well as healthcare and aerospace and defense.

“We didn’t do this in a vacuum,” Jabjiniak said. “We developed programs in concert with employers. We asked them to describe their needs now, and in the immediate future, and we brought in programs to meet those needs.”

For more information on the City of Mesa, visit www.mesaaz.gov/economic.