On October 13, 2017, educators from Technical Colleges all over Utah gathered together at Utah Valley University to participate in the Governor’s Education Summit. Attendees were treated to an in-depth presentation by UVU’s President, Mathew S. Holland. He shared his experience as a continuing education student at Oxford College. He shared the immense benefits students receive when combining a technical education with a 4-year degree at a university. He presented to staff at Oxford as well as members of Parliament.
The summit also included an in-depth discussion panel on the Statewide Vision of Technical Education for Utah. The audience was treated to conversations from Senator Deidre Henderson and Senator Evan Vickers about their confidence in Technical Education for all Utah citizens. Also included in the panel: Dan Campbell (Utah State Board of Regents), Jim Evans (Utah System of Technical Colleges), and Thalea Longhurst (CTE Director). There was a consensus among the panel that students in Utah may receive the most benefit from Technical Education because of Utah’s unique economy. Utah’s manufacturing industry is the strongest in the entire nation.* The panel concluded with renewed dedication among the group to continue to do more to spread the word about the benefits of Technical Education.
The second panel included students who completed a Technical Education certificate. Each student had a different experience and described the benefits of Technical Education from their unique viewpoint. Although they came from many different backgrounds, there was no doubt that the consensus among the group was that Technical Education was a significant asset to their plans and goals. Students who presented: Ann Clark (Heath Sciences Student), Marin Murdock (Business/Marketing Student), Roman Murga (Machining Student), Christine Noinaj (Welding Student), Bennett Olsen (Automotive Student), and Bridgerland Technical College’s own John Robison (Automated Manufacturing).
Each panelist consistently stated that they had excellent grades in high school, but their excitement for education took hold when they could apply what they had learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios. Many of them expressed a wish that more parents, counselors, educators, and other authority figures in their lives could see the value of Technical Education. Bridgerland Technical College’s John Robinson shared his experience in being part of the early morning AM STEM Academy for high school students. He was able to gain valuable technical skills while earning up to 30 college credits at Utah State University towards a Technology Systems degree.
The third panel was a fascinating mix of industry experts who shared their experience hiring students with a technical education background. Many industry leaders expressed that “manufacturing jobs” are no longer “dirty jobs.” Most jobs require some degree or level of technical skill. Industry leaders included “Susan Johnson (Futura Industries), Spencer Ferguson (Wasatch IT), Shawn Newell (Industrial Supply Company), Andy Theurer (ARUP Laboratories), and Brenda Voisard (Intermountain Healthcare).
The final panel discussed how to best deliver technical education to the public. Panelists included Mike Bouwhuis (Davis Technical College), Mathew Holland (UVU), Deneece Huftalin (Salt Lake Community College), Brennan Wood (Southwest Technical College), Martin Bates (Granite School District), and Kent Larsen (South Sanpete School District). They made the exciting connection that all Technical Colleges can benefit students and employers who hire students. We must keep communication open with employers throughout Utah to ensure that educators give them what is needed to be successful within their workforce.
Educators at this event were treated to a special presentation by Governor Gary Herbert as he declared 2018 the “Year of Technical Education” in Utah. He has committed to working to help the communities see the benefits that Technical Education can offer to every student in Utah.
*Source: The Deseret News