National study highlights Utah’s technical colleges’ role in attainment and economic development

A national study by Advance CTE, Building Better Futures for Learners: A 50-State Analysis of Area Technical Centers, highlighted Utah as one of five states that have effective and high-impact models for technical education. The report featured the important role of Utah’s eight technical colleges in meeting Utah’s attainment and economic development initiatives.

As the report notes:

With the pandemic and related economic recession, postsecondary educational attainment is more important than ever before. Due to COVID-19, more than 57 million people filed for unemployment between mid-March and August 2020, and those most affected have disproportionately been people of color and those with lower levels of educational attainment.

During the Great Recession, most new and replacement jobs went to those who had more than a high school diploma, and more than 50 percent of displaced workers changed industries after rejoining the workforce. Given that the needs of the labor market are not static and will continue to evolve at an accelerated pace, education and training systems must be nimble and responsive to these changes as displaced workers seek to reskill and upskill.

As part of their nimble nature, Utah’s technical colleges are open access and have multiple entry and exit points, so students have the flexibility to attend and complete programming in a way that works best for them.

Utah’s technical colleges also demonstrate a strong return on investment, serving as major drivers in the state’s economic development strategy. With a responsibility to serve all learners equitably through low-cost, high-quality programming that meets workforce needs, Utah’s technical colleges are an affordable pathway for students seeking to gain skills, competencies, and credentials.

“We know that postsecondary attainment opens the door to many opportunities that would not otherwise be available to individuals,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme,  Commissioner of Higher Education, Utah System of Higher Education. “Technical colleges are critical to meeting state attainment goals, and more importantly, to strengthening state communities and the economy. It is our job as education leaders to increase the understanding of the education and career tracks available so that students start on the path that best works for them.”

Now part of the Utah System of Higher Education, the state’s institutions of higher education are more aligned than ever and are working together as a cohesive system to offer career preparation programs and related supports for students to attain postsecondary education and related credentials of value.

Read the full report.

Read the full state profile.