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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Partnership aims to aid Marana

A developing partnership between the UA and the town of Marana is aiming to keep students close to Tucson after they graduate.

Marana businesses will work with various UA colleges and programs to build connections with students through opportunities like internships. The initiative began after businesses in Marana told the town government they lack the workforce and workforce development needed to thrive.

A meeting between four employers, including Sargent Aerospace & Defense, Lasertel and eight UA units, such as the College of Engineering and UA Career Services launched the partnership in January. Partnerships will differ by employer but may include businesses sponsoring senior capstone projects or hiring directly from the UA.

Graduates qualified to work in Marana’s developing technological sector often leave the state to find employment opportunities, said Gilbert Davidson, Marana town manager.

“”This has been a continuous problem with the best and the brightest coming out of the university system,”” he said. “”Many times, high paying, good jobs are found outside of Arizona. It’s the old adage ‘brain drain.'””

Companies cannot grow and create new jobs without the workforce they need, said Josh Wright, director of strategic initiatives for Marana. He said the problem is a main concern of many Marana businesses.

“”Companies are saying, ‘How do we get the best people possible working for us?'”” Wright said. “”It can be a challenge. Sometimes there just aren’t enough engineers. There aren’t enough people with MBAs. How do you fill those gaps then?””

Relationships with the UA can help by familiarizing students with businesses before they graduate, said Nancy Smith, director of corporate and business relations at the UA.

“”For students, it’s excellent,”” she said. “”They get real life experience through internships and they get to know a company they might want to work with some day.””

The partnership is facilitated by Marana and will include strategic meetings between the UA and employers. Each business will determine its relationship with the UA based on its needs.

The College of Engineering has worked with several of the companies individually but has not formed formal partnerships, according to Jeffrey Goldberg, dean of the College of Engineering.

“”They don’t know what we can do,”” he said. “”And we don’t know their needs.””

Representatives from Sargent Aerospace & Defense started their partnership with the UA by going to a job fair at the Eller College of Management.

“”We’re a highly technical employer,”” said Scott Still, president of Sargent Aerospace & Defense. “”The UA puts out some good candidates. If we can keep them at home, that’s a major benefit.””

Still said the partnership is continuing to develop but depends on each side expressing its needs.

“”When have a communication pipeline involved, we’ll have something really good,”” he said.

Smith said she expects the partnership to benefit both the students and employers.

“”We’ve already planted many seeds,”” she said. “”We’re really looking at sustained, high-value relationships.””

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