The Utah STEM Action Center announced the Utah K-16 Computing Initiative, which addresses the need for more high-tech, high-wage opportunities in rural Utah.

The K-16 Computing Initiative supports schools and districts in building computing programs. It will especially target rural communities, where computing skills can be leveraged for working remotely. The initiative is led by industry and created in partnership with, the Utah State Board of Education, Talent Ready Utah and the Utah STEM Action Center 
 
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to support all Utah students and teachers and the communities they call home,” said Dr. Tamara Goetz, executive director of the Utah STEM Action Center. “Computing knowledge and skills cut across nearly every educational discipline and every industry in our state. We are grateful for the governor’s 25k Jobs Initiative to create an opportunity to better leverage state resources for Utah’s rural communities.”  

The K-16 Computing Initiative was announced at the Juab County stop of the 25k Jobs Tour, which is the first step of Gov. Herbert’s goal to grow the 25 counties off the Wasatch Front by 25,000 jobs over the next four years. 

“Jobs in the tech industry can often be done remotely, which makes them a great fit for rural Utah,” said Derek B. Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah. “The Utah K-16 Computing Initiative will provide Utah students with computer programming skills that will increase their marketability and give them flexibility in where they live. This is a great development for rural communities.”  

Efforts of the K-16 Computing Initiative include a focus on K-8 industry-vetted course content, work-based learning opportunities, college readiness, stackable credentials and the granting of funds to support the development of these components in school districts statewide.
 
The State Legislature provided $1.255 million in ongoing funds during the 2017 Legislative Session, and the grant program launched in early August.  

“As a representative for the state of Utah, our legislature has heard the demand for more high-paying, rewarding jobs, and we’ve also heard the demand from industry for a future workforce with more computing skills,” said Sen. Ralph Okerlund, sponsor of the S.B.190 Education Computing Partnerships bill. “That’s why this bill is so critical in the opportunities it will create for students.”
 
The computing initiative has had strong industry support for the past several years, with Utah companies leading out on efforts to secure funding for a K-16 grant program.  

“Dell is committed to putting technology and expertise where it can do the most good for people,” said Vance Checketts, vice president and general manager at Dell EMC. “The K-16 Computing Initiative and STEM Mentor Exchange are two recent examples where we have been heavily involved with public and private sector partners in the state. We encourage all of our employees to give back to the community and share their expertise in classrooms, preparing and encouraging students for careers in STEM. We know these efforts will have a significant positive impact.”

There are more than 8,000 tech jobs open in Utah today and not enough talent to fill those jobs. Nationwide, computing occupations are now the number one source of new wages.   
 
“We’re committed to engaging with this young generation of problem solvers,” said Bruce Cutler, STEM education outreach coordinator with Ivanti. “We work closely with Boys and Girls Club in our community, volunteering our time to teach kids coding and we see firsthand how impactful our efforts are and we hope that other companies can do the same.”
 
Industry members who have stepped-up to address the computing shortage in Utah and joined the Utah K-16 Computing Initiative advisory committee include: Dell EMC, Adobe, Ivanti, 3M, Comcast, Oracle, Microsoft, IMFlash, InsideSales, OCTanner, Hill Air Force Base, Orbital ATK, Google Fiber, Accelerant, Utah Digital Entertainment Network, BAE Systems, AT&T, Vivint, Utah Technology Council, Womens Tech Council and Silicon Slopes. 
 
The 25K Jobs Launch Tour is led by Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox and World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah). The 25K Jobs Initiative will leverage partnerships such as the K-16 Computing Initiative to grow opportunities in rural Utah. The next stops for the tour are Sept. 5 and 6 in Millard, Wasatch and Tooele Counties