Arizona Western College Partners With Local Industry to Enhance Career Training

Yuma, AZ | Submitted by Linda Elliot-Nelson

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Based in Yuma, Arizona Western College has been educating students in western Arizona for more than 50 years. One of the few community colleges in Arizona with dormitories, Arizona Western College also boasts the only community college campus with a presence from all three state universities. It’s a huge benefit to residents of the relatively isolated community, who are able to stay close to home and earn their degree at the same time. That’s a major boon for local learners, since 70 percent of jobs will require education beyond high school by the year 2020.

The school’s efforts to create a college-educated community can be challenging, as many of their students are the first in their family to attend college. But Arizona Western College has been able to achieve high rankings in a number of key measures, including being one of the top community colleges in the state for student graduation rates, as well as for students who go on to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years.

This focus on producing well-educated students who are ready for the workforce is exemplified in the automotive department headed by Professor Larry Stanley. When General Motors relocated their hot weather testing area to Yuma, Arizona Western College moved quickly to create a mutually beneficial partnership. General Motors needed a pipeline of qualified technicians and automotive students needed on-the-job experience and Professor Stanley stepped up to the plate. The resulting internships have led to many graduates being hired immediately after completing their degree. Even for those who aren’t hired right away, the real-life experience is invaluable to their future prospects.

A recent federally funded grant has also meant that the automotive lab at Arizona Western College has been renovated and now closely resembles the lab at General Motors, giving students the most immediately applicable education possible. The up-to-date technology gives students a clear understanding of industry software, how it’s used in the workplace and how to make the most of it.

So far, the partnership has impacted 27 students who have served as interns, and more than 12 have been hired by General Motors. What’s more, many students have been able to continue their educational journey by leading into bachelor’s degrees. Their cutting-edge experience at Arizona Western College ensures their employability and enables them to create a bright future.

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