Meeting the Needs of Business and Industry

Sally Downey Headshot

Thought Leader Q & A with Dr. Sally Downey

As Superintendent of the East Valley Institute of Technology, Dr. Sally Downey is helping lead a critical effort in the Phoenix East Valley region; developing a workforce that is highly skilled and ready to fill market-driven jobs in a range of fields, everything from healthcare to IT to robotics engineering. As EVIT prepares to expand next school year, Downey talks about the vital role of career and technical education (CTE).

Q: Why is CTE more important than ever?

A: There is an enormous gap of skilled workers today. For many, many years people have been told that the way to success is go to college…but they’ve forgotten completely about the skilled worker. We still need people to build houses, we still need mechanics to work on airplanes, we need someone who can make our cars run. Now the whole nation is in a panic over trying to get a skilled workforce, a workforce that understands what business and industry needs. That’s why EVIT is such a hot commodity right now.

Q: Where can today’s CTE programs lead for students?

A: We’re very proud of our statistics. Two out of three of our kids do go on to higher education, but we have a saying here that ‘Every scholar needs a skill.’ We give them a good entry-level ability to make a decent wage. They could make $20 an hour in a surg tech (surgical technologist) program, and earn money for college.

Q: EVIT already offers 40 programs on its main campus, and operates two branch campuses. What is on the horizon?

A: We are starting a cyber security program next year, and also offering an associate’s degree for occupational therapy in partnership with Gateway (Community College.) And we are opening a branch campus in Fountain Hills.

Q: How does EVIT help boost the region’s overall economic growth?

A: We’re doing our part in trying to align with the needs of business and industry to be able to give them the workforce that they’re looking for. That’s one of the big reasons why industry will not come to a certain state or region, because they can’t find skilled workers.

All of our programs operate with the direction of a business and industry advisory committee, which meets with teachers and works together to formulate the curriculum. It’s imperative to have robust advisory committees to connect the dots.


Learn more about PHX East Valley’s talented workforce here.