Innovation through collaboration: successful education initiatives supplement your workforce development efforts

Make it Happen

Businesses are looking for employees with the skills their businesses need to grow. Schools want to prepare students to succeed in their chosen career fields. Both sides get what they want when they collaborate to ensure what is being taught is what the marketplace is looking for.

To help make that happen, this month, the Salt Lake Chamber is encouraging industry leaders to support education initiatives aimed at workforce development. And the Utah State Board of Education Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department is offering every Utah employer a simple and meaningful way to contribute to workforce development innovation by collaborating on existing career and technical education programs.

“Employers are looking at workforce development differently today,” says Todd Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association.  He says there is currently a talent shortage among the 1,100-plus manufacturing companies his organization represents within the state of Utah. “Many companies that used to just rely on the education system to get their future employees ready to enter the workforce are now looking for ways to get involved to ensure that those candidates are prepared with the right knowledge and skills.”

Many businesses don’t have the resources to invest in large-scale workforce development and training programs. Most employers, however, are eager to participate in existing programs that result in better prepared candidates for employment. This approach may fly in the face of the pervasive entrepreneurial spirit here in Silicon Slopes. Innovation is commonly equated to invention, or being the first to market with a new idea. Some of the best innovations, however, are simply enhancements and modifications to already sound ideas and concepts.

The Impressive Impact of CTE 

Utah represents the gold-standard in Career and Technical Education.  The Career Skills Certification program has proven very successful over the last twenty years, largely because industry partners provide feedback on the standards that guide teacher instruction and then engage students who earn certifications as interns or employees because they have the skills the businesses need.

Graduation rates among students who engage in CTE courses are, on average, 12 percent higher than their counterparts who don’t. The reason is relatively simple: students have a better understanding of where the skills they are learning will lead them on their career path. Essentially, CTE answers the question students have asked in frustration for decades: “When am I ever going to use this?”

According to Career Tech, the national association of state leadership on all things CTE, there are sixteen national Career Clusters:”

Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Architecture & Construction
Arts, A/V Technology & Communications
Business Management & Administration
Education & Training
Finance
Government & Public Administration
Health Science
Hospitality & Tourism
Human Services
Information Technology
Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
Manufacturing
Marketing
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Teachers provide their students with the most current instruction based on Industry Recognized Standards. These standards are shaped based on input from industry and education subject matter experts.

“Industry talent needs change so quickly; how else would teachers know what to teach to best prepare the kids in middle school and high school if we didn’t collaborate with the existing education system?” asks Cahlan Sharp, CEO and Founder atDevMountain, a private Utah-based coding bootcamp school, which participates in the standards and exam development process for several classes offered through Utah’s CTE IT Pathway.  “We see this type of collaboration as important because we work very closely with local employers to identify the skill stacks they want to see in the people they hire. Now we can use this insight to benefit Utah’s children, educators, and employers.”

The Benefit to Employers

David Halls, vice president and general manager at Amcor Masonry Products in North Salt Lake says one of their most pressing needs revolve around hiring the right people. As the leading architectural masonry, hardscape and retaining wall producer in Utah, Amcor already has challenges like every other large manufacturer in hiring and retaining qualified talent.

“With the addition of a new plant set to be completed by the end of the year, we will double our capacity in anticipation of current demand and future growth,” says Halls. “Working with the state to connect with the right students provides us with a vehicle to identify candidates that have demonstrated the aptitude and desire to succeed in our specific work environment.”

Get Involved

There are five simple steps that result in a meaningful connection and mutually beneficial relationship between education and industry. The easiest step is to simply get your company name on the list of those employers who recognize the value of the certification program. This simple step connects your organization with more qualified candidates who earn certificates that are meaningful to you and your company.

The Career and Technical Education department of the Utah State Board of Education is constantly striving to deliver and administer programs that provide tangible value to our students, says Thalea Longhurst, Utah State Career and Technical Education director at the Utah State Board of Education. “The Career Skills Assessment program, administered through Precision Exams, is one that provides us with valuable outcomes and data and is fully embedded within the Career and Technical Education program statewide. By adding local industry recognition, we believe these certificates carry even more value as the knowledge and skills earned by students when earning a certificate will provide them with a clear pathway into high-pay and high-demand roles with local employers, and your involvement ensures this local recognition of earned competencies.”

The industry engagement program has been created to provide maximum flexibility for participating employers.

Watch this short four minute video to learn more about which level of engagement with the Utah State Career & Technical Education program makes the most sense for you and your company, then reach out to Brock Smith at Precision Exams to get your business involved. bsmith@precisionexams.com 801.653.9356

Brock Smith

Brock Smith – Executive Vice President of Business Development at Precision Exams

With twenty years’ experience building and leading teams in the training and education industry, Brock has focused his passion for building through education in the proprietary education, corporate learning and development, and secondary education assessment fields. Brock has earned degrees in Marketing, an MBA, and, most recently, a Master’s in Learning Technology and Instructional Design from Utah State University. He enjoys sharing his love of all sports, and teaching life skills, by coaching and developing the youth on his football and basketball teams. Brock loves to play golf, fly fish, and just completed his first triathlon!