April 15, 2024

Education Explainer: Arizona Voters Want More Opportunities for Education and Training After High School

Education Forward Arizona recently commissioned the bipartisan team of researchers from FM3 Research and HighGround Consulting to administer a survey to more than 600 randomly selected Arizona voters. The respondents were contacted via text messaging and telephones, and interviews were conducted online and by phone by live interviewers. The purpose was to understand Arizona voters’ perceptions of education beyond high school. For purposes of this survey, education or training after high school includes earning industry credentials through a workforce certification program, earning a two-year career-training degree, or earning a four-year degree.

What we learned 

Arizona voters overwhelmingly agreed on the value of education and training after high school. It’s notable that this support spans demographic groups — women and men; Republicans, Democrats, and independents; and all races and ethnicities – as well as urban, suburban, and rural voters. 

In fact, 90-percent of the poll respondents believe that Arizona must provide education opportunities for all students, regardless of their zip code, to learn the skills necessary for success in a career and to obtain industry certifications.  Additionally, we learned the following:  

  • 96% believe that we should continue expanding access to technical training and education programs.  
  • 92% say we must foster postsecondary education opportunities that give students the chance to learn the skills necessary to succeed in careers or make a career change 
  • 84% of people who have completed education or training after high school usually have a better quality of life than those who have not 
  • 82% believe that some education beyond high school is necessary for a person to be successful in today’s work world 

These findings provide a roadmap for legislators to create and fund new programs.  

Perception of Post-High School Benefits for All Arizonans 

The poll results show there is a broad understanding that there is a public benefit when more individuals continue their education and training after high school. In fact, 95-percent of respondents indicated that the quality of life is improved and strengthened in our communities by reducing crime. Other benefits include addressing the severe shortages of qualified workers such as classroom teachers, nurses, and other high-demand careers.  

Arizonans Support the Achieve60AZ Goal  

Arizona has a lofty goal, known as Achieve60AZ, in which at least 60-percent of all Arizona adults between the ages of 25 and 64 will earn a degree or industry-specific certification by 2030. This goal was set in 2016 when it was projected that 70-percent of all future jobs in Arizona would require additional training after high school. This goal is to help ensure that Arizonans are prepared to enter a competitive job market with the necessary and in-demand skills. 

86-percent of poll respondents support the Achieve60AZ goal, but Arizona is currently only at 48-percent. To reach the goal, we need 500,000 additional degrees and certificates to be earned by 2030.  

More than 80-percent of poll respondents believe the following should be done to reach this goal:  

  • Expand access to technical training and education programs during high school that lead to a credential. 
  • Expand dual-enrollment programs that allow high school students to earn college credit while still in high school. 
  • Ensure every high school in Arizona has college or career advisors and counselors to help students plan their path after high school.  
  • Expand pre-high school services to help students and families identify interests, strengths, and aptitudes that will inform their education choices. 
  • Increase academic counseling and support services at community colleges to help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities.  

In Summary 

Arizona’s voters have sent a clear message: The state has everything to gain by providing today’s students a path to postsecondary education and training. There is a deep understanding that for generations, workers could find steady employment with a high school education, but those days have changed. Today, most jobs that are in high demand, have a high wage, and require a high level of skills (known as H3 jobs) require completion of education and training beyond high school.  

It is imperative that we continue to increase access to job training and career education programs beyond high school and continue to invest in education. This is the surest way to prepare students with the skills and education necessary for the high skilled, high demand jobs that will make a difference in their life, the lives of their family members, and our state. 

To download the full results from Education Forward Arizona’s poll, click here

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