The State's Largest Two-year College Builds a Top-Notch Workforce for Utah.

Author:Huftalin, Deneece G.

We live in a great state. We have solid businesses, hard-working citizens and an education system that continually produces high performers. As Utah repeatedly ranks among the nation's top economies, I'm reminded of a quote by Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp:

"Education is the most powerful tool countries have for boosting economic growth, increasing prosperity, and forging more just, peaceful and equitable societies."

With colleges and universities located from Logan to St. George, our state has built an impressive portfolio of higher learning institutions, which in turn has provided Utah with an intelligent and capable workforce. A strong economy, however, can bring its own set of challenges. One of these challenges is having enough well-trained workers to meet our regional economic demands. Lack of a sufficient labor force stalls economic progress and could force Utah businesses to turn elsewhere to meet their employment needs. As we continue to lead the nation in economic growth, Utah needs skilled workers more than ever--and quickly.

As the state's largest two-year higher education institution, we at Salt Lake Community College know a key part of our mission is to produce a highly-trained workforce. We take this role very seriously, and it guides our decisions as we consider Utah's unique needs. Consequently, we partner with regional industries and businesses to understand the skill sets they need from employees to succeed, and we then respond by aligning our curriculum to produce graduates ready to work and make immediate contributions to the local economy.

To stay abreast of innovation and change, we continually work with these partners to ensure our training is relevant and compatible with the latest technologies and equipment. Our new Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center is a perfect example of this collaboration. Here, we joined forces with local and national businesses and organizations to create a state-of-the-art learning center that will benefit our community for generations to come. Simply put, Westpointe allows students to learn best practices on the latest equipment for high-demand, high-paying jobs. The programs taught at Westpointe, which include welding, composites, machining, commercial truck driving, diesel systems technology and injection molding, are fields in which Utah and the nation are facing severe worker shortages.

Our workforce training isn't isolated to our Westpointe campus. We also educate...

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