Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deirdre Henderson announce ‘returnship’ initiative

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. Image: News conference screen grab

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 1, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson announced the launch of the Lieutenant Governor’s returnship initiative to expand workforce opportunities in Utah during the state’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday.

A returnship, similar to an internship, provides an opportunity for those re-entering the workforce after an absence to build their resume and gain current and relevant experience, Henderson said.

“We’re excited to announce a new initiative to provide adults who have been out of the workplace for an extended time the chance to get back into the workforce,” Henderson said at the news conference, which was held at Northrop Grumman in Roy. “This is designed for unemployed, underemployed, and vulnerable workers to learn new skills through affordable and flexible short-term programs.”

Utah is the only state with a returnship program like this, Henderson said.

In addition to an executive order for state agencies to create more opportunities, $15 million in new grant funding will be initiated for the Learn & Work program, said a follow-up news release after the press conference. The Learn & Work program supplies funding to Utah colleges and universities to provide no-cost training to qualified students. Programs, including returnships developed between education and industry partners, will be prioritized for funding.

Executive Order 2021-8, Expanding Return to Work and Returnship Opportunities in Utah, will require state agencies to identify new returnship opportunities that can be offered. Utah state government will be the first state nationwide to offer returnships.

“We need industry, government and education to come together and help individuals who want to re-engage in the economy find meaningful professional opportunities,” Henderson said at the news conference. “We also want to optimize training opportunities through our local colleges and universities. Our state agencies will lead the way and show all employers that returnships can help them develop talent as well as improve prospects for so many workers in our community.”

Learn & Work in Utah programs will continue to support educational and training pathways in partnership with employers providing resume-building experiences, the news release said. The success of the original round of Learn & Work in Utah, launched in the summer of 2020, resulted in the state Legislature providing additional funding to support skills-development courses throughout the state. Talent Ready Utah and the Utah System of Higher Education are working closely together to launch the application for another round of funding starting on April 1.

Learn & Work in Utah will aid individuals by providing tuition assistance to those who enroll in short-term training programs to re-enter or upgrade to more stable workforce positions. Career opportunities will be found in numerous high-impact industries, including computer science, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and business.

“The Utah System of Higher Education is proud to partner with our local employers through Learn & Work in Utah,” said Commissioner David Woolstenhulme, Utah Commissioner for Higher Education, by way of the news release. “Our training programs and partnerships with employers are intended to connect individuals with career opportunities while providing employers with a well-prepared workforce.”

Learn more about the initiative here.

To watch the full press conference click here.

For the latest COVID-19 numbers in Utah click here.


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