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Workforce Wednesday: What do intergenerational poverty and workforce alignment have in common?

We’ve fielded some questions recently about the strength of the Utah economy, in part spurred by President Barack Obama’s visit to discuss jobs. In addition to the messages we’ve all become accustomed to — stellar job growth, low unemployment, and diverse opportunities — there’s another piece that sometimes goes unnoticed: the ability of our state to tackle more complex issues when our economy is strong. For today's "Workforce Wednesday" blog, we want to dive a little deeper into what that means for Utah.

Think of it like a household. It’s hard to focus on much beyond immediate financial needs if the breadwinners are unemployed and looking for work. Similarly, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession Utah’s leaders focused on economic recovery — fostering a business-friendly environment to create jobs — as a top priority.

This focus worked, as today jobs and opportunities abound for Utahns. Here at Workforce Services we’re working daily to connect our job seekers with those openings. Thanks to that focus, and our current economic strength, we’re now better able to tackle more complex economic issues than ever before. Two good examples are intergenerational poverty and workforce alignment.

With our new 5 and 10 year plan to address intergenerational poverty, we’re outlining a clear policy vision for families stuck in a cycle of poverty, helping them find ways to overcome those barriers. Though complex, this challenge is not insurmountable — and there is no better economy than Utah equipped to handle it. You can learn more about this initiative here.

We also made a new addition to our workforce alignment grant, the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership. Bringing together education, workforce/economic development, and the business community, this program provides grants to train students in high-demand skills. With so many job opportunities, this helps our workforce become ready to fill them. The video below highlights the rollout event, where we announced that public education institutions can now apply. This builds a better pipeline from classroom to career — yet another tool that takes our economy to the next level.

Helping families break out of intergenerational poverty and training students for high-demand careers may seem like disparate issues. But they are both key indicators that our economy has broken free from the constraints of recovering from the past recession, and instead expanding for future opportunity.


*Every Wednesday, Workforce Services takes a special look at issues or initiatives that affect Utah's workforce. Hop on Twitter to follow the latest innovations that help Utahns take their careers to the next level: #WorkforceWednesday