A better-than-expected April jobs report Friday showed the economy added 165,000 jobs and the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.5%, the lowest it has been in almost four years.
Yet as the economy continues to improve, millions of jobs still remain vacant across the country. In March 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 3.8 million jobs were left unfilled because employers could not find qualified workers with the skills needed to get the job done.
In the state of Arizona it is projected that 62% of the state's jobs will require secondary education by 2018. However, according to the Census Bureau, only 35% of adults 25- years and older had a college degree in 2010. Among Hispanics, the fastest growing population in this majority-minority state, that number is cut in half, at 17%.
As part of NBC News' Education Nation tour across the country, The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd moderated a series of panels in Phoenix Friday, discussing various initiatives and programs aimed at raising student achievement and closing the skills gap in Arizona with local politicians, businessmen, and educators.
One of these panels, titled "Job One" focused on preparing Arizona to compete in the 21st century economy and closing the skills gap by concentrating on the root of the problem: the state's education system.
Education Nation is NBC News' on-going initiative to engage the country in a solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America.
K12: Improving the Outcome
Job One: Preparing Arizona to Compete in the 21st Century Economy