Department of Labor Awards $2 Million to WSU-led Tech Collaboration

OGDEN, Utah – The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded $2 million to Weber State University to lead a collaboration of Utah technology groups and businesses in a continuing effort to expand apprenticeships.

Known as the Utah Computing Apprenticeship Collaborative (UCAC), the group has made a long-term commitment to supply computing talent for Utah companies that support education and training programs.

“Post-secondary institutions are working hard to meet the increasing demand of industry and to provide rapidly shifting skills in the current academic structure,” said James Taylor, WSU Office of Sponsored Projects director. “By increasing engagement between education and industry partners and exploring innovative alternatives to the traditional academic programs, this partnership can help foster more effective training models.”

According to the Department of Labor news release, the apprenticeships are specifically intended for underrepresented groups: “These grants will support the training of more than 85,000 apprentices in new or expanded apprenticeship programs and increase apprenticeship opportunities for all Americans, including veterans, military spouses, and service members transitioning into the civilian workforce; and groups that are underrepresented in apprenticeships such as women, people of color, and Americans transitioning from the justice system to the workforce.”

Thanks to the grant, tech businesses in Utah will be able to expand their pool of potential employees by offering apprenticeship opportunities.

Silicon Slopes Apprenti, a program of the Utah Technology Council, which publicly launched in May, is an affiliate of Apprenti, a national program that has created Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeships for the technology sector. The first cohort will start in software development in mid-August.

“This grant means that access to the opportunities of Utah’s tech sector just took a giant leap toward being open to all,” said Ben Luks-Morgan, Silicon Slopes Apprenti director. “This collaboration will change the face of Utah’s technology sector.”

A registered apprentice will begin at 60% of full salary and receive a wage increase with each training or education benchmark met; the ultimate goal is full employment upon the completion of all benchmarks. Typical benchmarks will include specific certification attainment, competencies in outlined job functions and demonstrated expertise in company software, tools and technology.

Weber State will manage the overall project and its funding and also lead a higher- education consortium through the creation of new and innovative curriculum and training materials.

Silicon Slopes Apprenti will manage the Apprenti program, lead outreach and recruitment of apprentice candidates, manage the assessment screening and hiring process, and connect and recruit companies to offer apprenticeships.

The program initially will focus on Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Tooele counties and then expand to additional counties with a special emphasis on rural Utah through virtual and online training.

This is Weber State’s second DOL grant. In 2013, the university received  $2.5 million to double the capacity of two high-demand programs: health information technology and health information management housed in the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

 James Taylor, WSU Office of Sponsored Projects director
801-626-6055 • jamestaylor8@weber.edu

Author:

Allison Barlow Hess, Public Relations director
801-626-7948 • ahess@weber.edu