Tucson youths to get glimpse of high-tech jobs at workshop

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Tucson high school students will get a taste of careers in high technology when the Ninth Annual Key to Employment for the 21st Century opens Feb. 6 on the campus of the University of Arizona.

Billed as a workshop, expo and resource fair, the free event is geared to motivating students to attend college and pursue careers in the state’s high-tech industries. Organizers expect about 500 high school students and educators from Pima and Santa Cruz counties in southeastern Arizona to attend.

Young people would do well to look into the high-tech field. In a 2005 report detailing the highest-paying occupations in Arizona, issued by the state Department of Economic Security, careers such as aerospace engineers, computer and information specialists earned more than $40 hourly.

A statewide survey conducted in June shows that Arizonans believe that science and technology will deliver high-paying jobs to Arizona’s economy. The study, Arizonans’ Attitudes toward Science, Technology, and Their Effects on the Economy, was written by Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

The Morrison Institute’s survey reports that Arizona residents believe  science and technology will play an important part in the state’s economic development. In addition, Arizonans want their state to be a leader in science and technology research. Responses by Arizonans also acknowledge that leadership would require a commitment to science education.

For example:

• More than nine out of ten respondents said that it is important for Arizona to be a national and international leader in science and technology.

• Nearly 90 percent of Arizonans surveyed felt developments in science and technology help create new high-paying jobs.

• Eight out of ten said they believe that science education is at least as important as teaching math, reading, and writing.

Health was the biggest area where residents felt they personally benefit from science and technology research, while health, energy, and the environment were picked as the most important problems that science and technology could help solve.

Today’s students will be part of this development. Expo participants will have an opportunity to meet professionals in the high technology field who will talk with the youths about jobs and the industry. The students will experience a multimedia presentation that will feature interviews with UA research professionals and representatives from leading technology organizations in the workplace.

Educators also will acquaint students with the educational path they will need to take to gain the skills for high-tech jobs. During interactive workshops students will see demonstrations, hear presentations and participate in Q-and-A sessions and discussion groups moderated by the superintendents of local school districts.

Community resources will be on hand to help the students plan for academic and career success. UA student tech projects, technology companies, and local colleges, universities, trade schools and programs will provide career counseling at the fair.

Among high-technology companies expected to attend are Aerospace, Information Technology and eLearning, Environmental Technology, Optics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and New Age Materials.

The workshop is presented by the Metropolitan Education Commission (MEC) in cooperation with the University of Arizona, the Pima and Santa Cruz Tech Prep Consortium, the City Of Tucson, Pima County, and other groups and organizations.

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