The University of Arizona

Taking the Next Step in Workforce Preparation

UA Caterpillar Leaders at UA's Student Unions

Are colleges and universities providing students with the skills to succeed in the job market?

According to a recent Phoenix Business Journal article, they’re not – but the UA is stepping in to teach its graduates the skills companies look for in new hires. Just three years ago, the UA created the 100% Engagement Initiative to address the skill gap in the labor market.

Through engagement experiences such as conducting research with faculty, completing an internship, studying abroad, and launching a business, students learn and apply soft skills imperative for career success. Such skills include communication, adaptability, and problem solving, which have becoming increasingly more important in today’s economy according to employers.  

Students who have completed engagement experiences graduate with a notation of their academic transcript that certifies their personal and professional development. Today, more than 6,000 UA students have graduated with an 100% Engagement notation on their transcript. This year, 60 percent of the graduating senior class will have completed an engaged learning experience, doubling that of last year’s class.

In addition, UA graduates are some of the most employable in the nation. According to internal employment satisfaction data, 92 percent of employers rate UA grads as having the skills needed to succeed on the job, compared to 23 percent nationally. In fact, two-thirds of graduates this May have already accepted job offers or placement in graduate and professional schools.

Critically, the UA is taking their model of workforce readiness a step further. The university is not only preparing their own students for the workforce, but also employees already in the workforce.

Through corporate partnerships with employers such as Caterpillar, GEICO, Cox, and Salt River Project, the UA is helping high-impact businesses better serve the state of Arizona.

For example, Caterpillar and the UA have teamed up to create a custom educational experience called the Mining 360 program. This year-long program blends classroom and distance learning with the opportunity to learn, visit, and study active mine sites across the United States and Canada. As a result, high-performing and high-potential Caterpillar employees learn to better serve their customers and community.

“Part of our job as an outstanding public university is to help our state of Arizona move forward economically,” said Vincent J. Del Casino Jr., Vice President, Academic Initatives & Student Success. “Education is central to that and collaborating with companies that have a home base in Arizona will be a critical part of our mission to better the lives of students, employees, organizations, and Arizona.”