A Salt Lake City company has teamed with several top Utah universities to offer new online help for workers who’ve lost their jobs in the pandemic and want retraining.
Business consulting firm Cicero Group said Wednesday its site — SkillUpUtah.com — will point laid off and furloughed workers to short-term, high-quality and affordable training programs for job skills in highest demand among Utah employers.
Cicero Group CEO Trent Kaufman said the portal had been developed as a charitable effort, with its links and referrals all tailored to industry needs through business surveys to identify skills needed in a post-coronavirus economy.
With thousands of residents needing to find new work, Kaufman said the site “is the right thing and it’s what Utah does: come together to solve hard problems and collaborate.”
Officials from the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Western Governors University and Brigham Young University’s online Pathway Worldwide have partnered in developing SkillUpUtah.com, as have several for-profit schools and private employers.
Launch of the free job training portal comes as state officials are rapidly sifting through hundreds of applications from Utah’s colleges and universities for grants to create new worker training programs or expand existing ones.
Utah’s unemployment rate recently fell to 5.1%, second lowest among U.S. states and well below the national average of 11.1%. Thousands of state residents have nonetheless seen layoffs, furloughs or cuts in their work hours since March and are struggling to find work, even as more businesses across the state endeavor to reopen.
In remarks at the launch of SkillUpUtah.com, U. President Ruth Watkins said the school felt a duty to pitch in.
“We must help those individuals get back to work and get into Utah’s vibrant economy again,” Watkins said Wednesday via video, noting the U. hoped to showcase several of its certificate and one-year graduate programs.
Upheaval due to the pandemic is likely to leave Utah’s job markets permanently altered , added UVU President Astrid Tuminez, creating “a lot of opportunity.”
“We are positioned to not just navigate, but to harness all of these changes to improve lives and the economy of Utah,” Tuminez said.
The site offers links to existing training programs, according to Kaufman, with listings limited to programs that are fast to complete, effective and low cost. Users can find job resources, career mentors and assistance with financial aid in acquiring new skills on the portal, too.
The site also invites employers to join the cause, whether by providing job mentors or information on employment openings or by recommending existing workers for new skills training.
Initial skills advice and programs listings on SkillUpUtah.com were focused on opportunities in technology, manufacturing, health care and professional services, but Kaufman said new training options would be vetted and added as they emerge.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development is poised to spend $9 million on new retraining programs through the state’s 16 public colleges, universities and technical schools — part of billions in federal pandemic relief money sent to Utah.