The nonprofit Silicon Slopes wants the state’s tech leaders to play a bigger role in guiding public policy in Utah, announcing two new partnerships this week that will help the industry shape education, legislation and other issues.

Silicon Slopes and the Salt Lake Chamber said Tuesday they will work together on business and community challenges, from developing the state’s workforce to clearing the air.

On Wednesday, Silicon Slopes will host the announcement of a new Pathways program to help high school students and adults gain coding experience and other skills they need for tech careers.

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) has previously launched aerospace and diesel technician Pathways programs.

“We‘re working with GOED to figure out how we solve this talent gap we have in the state of Utah,“ said Clint Betts, executive director and editor in chief at Silicon Slopes. “The Pathway program gives opportunities to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have had those opportunities to [join] this amazing community that’s been built in the tech industry.”

While the program is still in the design stage, Betts said it will help address the three main issues facing Utah’s tech industry: diversity, recruiting and education.

“It’s really an industry-led initiative,” GOED Communications Director Aimee Edwards said at an event hosted by Silicon Slopes last week. “Industry takes the initiative to say what it needs and works with educators to mend the workforce pipeline.”

Silicon Slopes’ alliance with the Salt Lake Chamber will give it another opportunity to steer workforce development and other policies affecting the tech sector statewide, Betts and chamber president Lane Beattie said Tuesday. 

“To partner with the state’s largest and longest-serving business association will allow the tech community a real seat at the table to solve community challenges,” Betts said.

“Whether it is air quality, transportation or workforce development, our industry is impacted,” he said. “This partnership allows us to help shape business-driven solutions.”

Beattie said it’s essential for his group to do all it can to promote the state’s tech sector, describing it as “an incubator that keeps our economy ahead of our peers, bringing investment and jobs.”

“It’s important to us as Utah’s ‘voice of business’ to engage with this next generation of emerging business leaders,” he added, saying “their innovative and entrepreneurial spirit [will] unlock unique possibilities that keep Utah the best place in the nation to live, work, learn and play.”

State education leaders and Utah executives from tech companies, including Dell EMC and Domo, are expected to attend Wednesday’s Pathways event in Silicon Slopes’ Lehi office.

They hope to use the Utah Aerospace Pathways as a model. That program. which launched in 2015, combines classroom study with externship opportunities at aerospace firms such as Boeing, Harris, Hexcel, Hill Air Force Base, Janicki and Orbital ATK.