Governor Herbert Visits Partners in Support of Aerospace

Published: July 16, 2018 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Governor Gary Herbert and aerospace groupOn Thursday, July 12, Governor Gary Herbert visited partners and participants in the Southwest Aerospace and Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative. Several partners including the Iron County School District, Southwest Technical College, Southern Utah University and MSC Aerospace along with a dozen students enrolled in the program attended the meet and greet event held at the Cedar City Airport eager to receive the Governor’s support and hear his remarks.

The Southwest Aerospace and Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative is a collaborative program that helps students develop skills that put them at the forefront of the rapidly growing aerospace industry.

“We need baseline talent to continue to grow business in Utah,” said Herbert. “Employers are looking for future talent and you are on the cutting edge. You’re in a very good sector for economic stability and economic opportunity.”

“The initiative provides support to students in high school and post-secondary training,” said President Scott Wyatt of SUU. “It will prepare them for technical jobs in southern Utah.”  

During the 2018 Utah Legislative Session in Salt Lake City, the Legislature granted the request for the Strategic Workforce Initiative funding presented by the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. This request will extend the current Utah Aerospace Pathway program. This effort will provide the opportunity for stackable credentials with multiple entry points and exit points to support multiple academic paths.

Students completing the Southwest Aerospace Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative have the option to go into the workforce upon graduation from high school or to continue their education through STECH or SUU. This initiative will help students on their journey through higher education, giving them more options.

The credentials will begin with high school training and concurrent enrollment and then extend to additional certificates and certifications which include as well as associate's and bachelor’s degrees articulated through STECH and/or SUU. These trained and educated students would supply skilled labor quickly for the growing aerospace and manufacturing industry.

Dr. Richard Cozzens, associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at SUU, is the Principal Investigator for the initiative. Cozzens has been working with STECH, Iron County School District, MSC Aerospace and other industry partners for many years on numerous grants and projects and has built a strong working relationship with each partner. These many years of collaboration were critical in helping Cozzens and the partners recognize the need and lay the groundwork for this particular initiative.

“Being awarded the Aerospace and Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative is exciting,” said Cozzens. “It is something we have been working on for several years, but we now have the resources to make it happen.”

Cozzens sees this as an opportunity to assist high school counselors, teachers and parents in guiding students to the appropriate educational credential. These defined pathways will include some innovative educational and occupational coordination between Iron County School District, STECH, SUU and industry partners. The idea is that students will be motivated by having a clear and effective path to a rewarding career in a manufacturing (and other STEM related) careers, thus supplying the local businesses with skilled employees.    

The southwest portion of Utah has unique needs in aerospace that are continually growing. The impact of just one successful skilled job placement in Iron County has the same economic impact as 11.48 skilled job placements in Salt Lake County. This initiative will grow the number of skilled workers needed in Iron County.

“Southwest Technical College and SUU have a positive track record of working collaboratively to create academic and career pathways which begin in high school and allows students to continue their education through certification and degree programs,” said Will Peirce, vice president of instruction at STECH. “We are excited about the prospect of expanding our collaboration and providing additional opportunities for our students to take advantage of stackable credentials which will provide multiple entry and exit points preparing them for new and advanced employment in high-demand technical careers.”  

SUU and STECH have the same goal in mind; they want to better serve their students and provide multiple options for success to prepare them for the workforce. The Southwest Aerospace and Manufacturing Strategic Workforce Initiative is a stepping stone in a greater movement to bridge tech schools with four-year institutions.

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