/ Modified jan 28, 2017 11:09 a.m.

Episode 122: A Workforce Pipeline for Tucson Manufacturers

Plus, analysis of Monsanto greenhouse plans; churches offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

When Tucson-area manufacturers realized they didn't have enough skilled workers to fill their jobs, they partnered with high school and community college classes to create their workforce. A few years later, signs show it's working.

The partnership between Pima Community College, Pima County's workforce development program, Tucson and Sunnyside school districts, and manufacturing companies is called Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners.

Before the partnership, manufacturers were essentially poaching workers from one another, said Don Theriault, president of Industrial Tool Die and Engineering, Inc. Now, he said, they get students who have three years of machining training from high school and who are studying manufacturing in college. The students are paid for their work,while they continue learning in school and developing skills on the job.

Pima Community College Students Evelyn Plascencia and Brandon McCaskey say they have found their passion in machining and manufacturing.

Hear from them in the latest episode of Metro Week, above.

Also in this episode

  • Lori'ell Reyes is the Rodeo Queen of the Tohono O'odham Rodeo this weekend. It's the 79th year for the event, plus fair and parade. Reyes and bull- and bronco-rider Jalen Joaquin say the event is more special than other rodeos they compete in, because it's on their home turf, the nation's capitol in Sells.

  • President Donald Trump confirmed plans this week to expand the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and said he would reduce federal funding for sanctuary cities, or those that do not enforce federal immigration laws. His proposals have led local churches, including Southside Presbyterian to revive an effort they started decades ago: to shelter people from the threat of deportation by providing sanctuary.

  • Gary Nabhan, a University of Arizona professor and native food expert offers his perspective on the plans for Monsanto to open a greenhouse in Marana. A few weeks ago, we invited a Monsanto scientist to answer the questions Pima County residents had posed at a series of public meetings about the company’s plans. Monsanto's Amanda McCleren said decades of science support the company’s work developing genetically modified seeds. Nabhan says the science is less certain than that.

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