Leaders from a broad collection of business associations and businesses—members of the workforce development coalition Industry Engaged in Education—will utilize Career and Technical Education (CTE) offerings to provide connections and opportunities to qualified students with jobs, internships and other career opportunities in fields in which they have shown aptitude and interest.
“Utah’s economy is outperforming the rest of the country and anyone who wants a job can find a job,” said Edson Barton, president and CEO of Precision Exams, a Lehi-based company that provides CTE testing and certification for all students in Utah and most other states across the country. “But there are still so many businesses that cannot find the skilled employees they need to fill jobs that are open now and that could be created if the workforce was ready. We want to help students understand the opportunities that are there for them and help them start down a path to prosperity at the moment they realize they have the interest or the aptitude to do the things these careers require.”
Industry Engaged in Education first came together in January. Gov. Gary Herbert had declared 2018 to be the “Year of Career and Technical Education” in Utah and the members of this group sent an open letter to the governor applauding the move and declaring their support for the effort.
In the letter to the governor, the members of Industry Engaged in Education pledged to support the state’s efforts by engaging directly with CTE students across the state to provide a more authentic and appreciable understanding of careers that can result from CTE pathways, to provide endorsement and recognition of career and technical education programs from industry, and to highlight CTE careers, challenging the idea that these are inferior career options.
“It’s unfortunate that we still have to fight some misperceptions about the kinds of careers available to students who excel in CTE courses and who pursue CTE pathways,” said Todd Bingham, president and CEO of the Utah Manufacturers Association. “If you take a kid into a manufacturing facility today they will likely be surprised by just how high-tech and exciting the industry really is. And there’s a great deal of opportunity there, as well.”
The coalition currently consists of the following organizations:
● Associated General Contractors of Utah
● Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce
● Precision Exams
● Salt Lake Board of Realtors
● Salt Lake Chamber
● Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce
● Utah Food Industry Association
● Utah Hospital Association
● Utah Manufacturers Association
● Utah Mining Association
● Utah Petroleum Association
● Utah Restaurant Association
● Utah Retail Merchants Association
● Utah Technology Council
● Utah Trucking Association
● Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce
● West Jordan Chamber of Commerce
● Smithfield Foods
● Clyde Companies
● Key Bank
● IM FlashMity Incorporated
● Tamra Mining
● Jacobsen Construction
● Nexeo HR
● Granite Construction
Over the next several weeks, the coalition will work with policymakers to chart the best policy path forward to connect the right students to the right career opportunities, exploring the most effective ways to connect skills Utah students are most interested in developing with a path to personal career success.
“The better we help students see how the skills they learn in a CTE class can lead to an exciting career, the more motivated they are to learn and the more likely they are to connect with businesses that really need people with these skills to help their organizations grow,” said Barton. “The one issue we still need to address to make our booming state economy even stronger is the challenge businesses face finding qualified, skilled workers.”