Friday Odds & Ends: SLCC Preparing 30,000 Young People for Workforce

lavarr policy insightsI’ve written a number of times that Utah’s young people are the state’s greatest asset if they are prepared for good jobs. But they will be a serious liability if their future is working minimum-wage jobs.

Yesterday, I attended the Envision Utah Corporate Friends Breakfast and heard the keynote address by Dr. Deneece G. Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). I came away reassured about the future of our children and grandchildren, at least if they take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

Huftalin noted that Utah’s young people are “sustainable, renewable natural resources. They will help shape and grow the economic success of our state.” SLCC is doing its part. Huftalin has fully embraced the community college mission, getting young people started in post-high school education and providing exceptional training programs for good-paying jobs that don’t require four years of college.

Huftalin noted that 30 years ago, SLCC had 7,000 students, most of them male, and only 7.6 percent were minority. Today, 30,000 students attend SLCC and many thousands more are engaged in corporate-sponsored training. Women outnumber men, and 25 percent of students are minority. More than 50 percent of students are the first in their family to attend college.

Education at SLCC reflects today’s knowledge-based, high-tech economy. The school features “21st Century professors doing high-impact teaching” said Huftalin, with high-tech labs and hands-on training for high-demand jobs.

But more investment and focus is needed, she said. She noted that Utahns rated education as the state’s second highest priority in Envision Utah’s recent large survey. But when asked to rate Utah’s performance on those priorities, education came in second to last, 14th out of 15 priorities.

Without excellent education, sub-classes and divisions, the haves and have-nots, are created in society.

The biggest reason students drop out of college is cost. SLCC has many programs to help students financially, including using more open-course, on-line textbooks that have saved students more than $1 million in textbook costs. Degrees and certifications must be affordable.

If we educate a young person, we don’t just provide economic opportunity and an improved quality of life for an individual, Huftalin said. We change forever a family and generations of young people to come. SLCC and Pres. Huftalin are doing just that.

Approval Ratings for U.S. Senators. Survey research by Morning Consult shows Bernie Sanders is America’s most popular U.S. senator, with his constituents giving him an 80 percent approval rating. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the lowest approval rating, and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch isn’t much better with the fourth-worst rating at 49 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval, about the same as Arizona’s John McCain. It seems power and seniority don’t count much back home. You can see all the ratings here.

Person to watch: Tim Kaine for Hillary’s veep pick.

Bad idea of the day: Women register for the military draft

Funny self-help video: How to move to Canada if Trump wins.

Moron of the week: Officials at Utah’s Arches National Park are investigating large graffiti so deeply carved into one of the park’s famous red rock arches that it might be impossible to erase.