SLC Economic Development Workforce Development Manager Jake Maxwell offers this latest blog on training for the skills and knowledge that our Salt Lake City business owners need. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback.

Today the Salt Lake Chamber held an Education and Workforce Forum. I thought I would take some notes and relay some insights for our businesses to utilize. For any additional discussion about implementation, partnering with education, and talent pathways, please reach out and we can come by your business to have a discussion. For reference, please see last weeks post that focused on credit articulation and accreditation.

Those present in today’s discussion were:

Jared Haines, Interim Commissioner of Technical Education, Utah System of Technical Colleges
Kim Ziebarth, Associate Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs, Utah System of Technical Colleges
Clay Christensen, President, Mountainland Technical College
Paul Hacking, President, Tooele Technical College
Jim Taggart, President, Ogden-Weber Technical College
Eric Heiser, Dean, School of Applied Technology and Technical Specialties, Salt Lake Community College

Here are a few takeaways I wanted to share:

  • Accreditation for technical colleges “lives and dies” by the metric of having students connect to work. This is a much different outlook for University accreditation.
  • The technical colleges have articulation agreements with other schools to make sure all possible credits that can will transfer.
  • The stigma around technical education (previously vocational education) is being shifted. Parents have been a challenging force to overcome, but the value statement is that folks are graduating mostly without debt, with high paying jobs, and STEM credits that allow for continued education.
  • The State has invested in allowing all high school students to attend technical college for free.
  • The State has made sure to increase funding all around to ensure we continue to have the needed workforce for occupations taught at technical colleges.
  • Industry works much closer to Technical Colleges and often is ready to hire graduates during, or after training.
  • The average age at the technical arm of Salt Lake Community College is 35. Much of the workforce is coming back to upskill or re-skill.
  • It is imperative we begin sparking interest as early as middle school and nudging kids in the direction of their real interests.
  • Tooele ATC had 7 year olds in their diesel shop working on diesel engines, changing tires, etc. Industry can always find avenues to connect and spark an interest at any level.
  • Students who were at some point exposed to Technical School has increased completion and graduation probability for whole minority and disadvantaged communities.