Lt. Gov. Henderson announces her first initiative – a “Returnship” program


Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson announced her first initiative as Lt. Governor, a plan to expand Utah’s returnship opportunities. Returnships are internships for adults looking to re-enter the workforce after an extended absence. They are designed as a back-to-work program that provides the experience, training, skills, and mentoring that an individual needs to return to the workforce without starting from the bottom of the career ladder. Returnships can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. While all are eligible, this program is likely to be a real boost to women who took a number of years off the educational or career track to raise their families.


Executive Order 2021-8, Expanding Return to Work and Returnship Opportunities in Utah, will require state agencies to identify new returnship opportunities that can be offered. Utah state government will be the first state nationwide to offer returnships. It was signed by Governor Cox and Lt. Governor Henderson on Thursday.

In addition to an executive order for state agencies to create more opportunities, $15 million in new grant funding will be initiated for the Learn & Work program. The Learn & Work program supplies funding to Utah colleges and universities to provide no-cost training to qualified students. Programs, including returnships developed between education and industry partners, will be prioritized for funding

The Lt. Governor’s Returnship Initiative features two tracks. The first offers return-to-work opportunities in state government and with Utah businesses. This path is for those who don’t require additional education. The second path provides short-term training opportunities at Utah colleges and universities. 

“We need industry, government and education to come together and help individuals who want to re-engage in the economy find meaningful professional opportunities. We also want to optimize training opportunities through our local colleges and universities,” said Lt. Gov. Henderson. “We also want our state agencies creating more returnship opportunities for those who are re-entering the workforce.” 

The Learn & Work in Utah programs will continue to support educational and training pathways in partnership with employers providing resume-building experiences. The success of the original round of Learn & Work in Utah, launched in the summer of 2020, resulted in the State Legislature providing additional funding to support skills-development courses throughout the state. Talent Ready Utah and the Utah System of Higher Education are working closely together to launch the application for another round of funding starting on April 1, 2021.
Learn & Work in Utah will aid individuals by providing tuition assistance to those who enroll in short-term training programs to re-enter or upgrade to more stable workforce positions. Career opportunities will be found in numerous high-impact industries, including computer science, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and business. The Learn and Work In Utah is supported by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Talent Ready Utah and the Utah System of Higher Education. 
“The Utah System of Higher Education is proud to partner with our local employers through Learn & Work in Utah,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, Utah Commissioner of Higher Education. “Our training programs and partnerships with employers are intended to connect individuals with career opportunities while providing employers with a well-prepared workforce.”

Beginning June 1, the following institutions will be offering Learn and Work In Utah programs: Bridgerland Technical College, Davis Technical College, Dixie Tech, Dixie State University, MTech, Ogden-Weber Technical College, Salt Lake Community College, Snow College, Southwest Tech, Southern Utah University, Tooele Technical College, UBTech, Utah State University, The University of Utah, Utah Valley University and Weber State University.

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