The following article appeared in the Friday, July 1 edition of The Phoenix Business Journal:

The health care industry in Arizona and across the nation is experiencing significant change. The change comes from innovation within the industry, consumer demands as well as federal regulations — and with change comes opportunity.

One of the greatest opportunities ahead for health care is the anticipated growth of the industry. From physicians to aides and technicians to service agents, 10 out of the top 20 fastest growing occupations are health care related.

The range of professions requires a current and future pipeline of talented individuals with certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, as well as advanced education and training.

The anticipated industry growth also means there is an open door for Arizona and our students to attract much needed jobs and advancement opportunities to our state. However, it requires a strong commitment to high quality education, from cradle to career.

The better we prepare our children and students to succeed in college and career, the greater their chances to be able to seize the opportunity ahead. Increasing the availability of high-bar science, technology and math education for all students is one solution. Educating students and families about the multiple educational pathways available to them through career and technical, community college and university programs is another.

According to the United States Department of Labor, health care wage and salary employment is expected to increase 27% through 2014. All industries combined are projected at only 14%. The opportunity is there, now let’s make sure our education system is strong and our students are prepared to seize what lies ahead.

To learn more about how you can help improve education in our state, visit

Richard L. Boals is the President & CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.