In a report provided to the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), Utah State University accounted for the $1,403,595 of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds allocated under the CARES Learn & Work in Utah initiative since July 2020.
The Learn & Work program was created under the guidance of the Utah Legislature. The Legislature requested a program to encourage career development and workforce engagement for citizens displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. USU received CARES Act funds to support short-term training programs, student tuition and fees, books, operating supplies, classroom supplies, lab products and small tools. Scholarships were awarded to 287 participants, allowing them to receive free training. Programs provided included additive manufacturing, certified nursing assistant, computer science, commercial truck driving, career and technical education, small business development, and marketing and professional sales.
One participant was Emily Olsen, who owns a personal training business. Having moved her business online shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, Olsen took the entrepreneurship program at USU Blanding, learning ways to expand and strategies to better succeed both during the current circumstances and into the future.
“I absolutely soaked up this opportunity,” she said. “As an entrepreneur, it was information that I was able to apply in real time, and that helped me absorb it better than I would have in another program. I was able to apply each chapter of each module as we went along, immediately putting what I learned into use in my business.”
Another participant was Amanda Hollingsworth, an instructor in the Medical Assistant program at Davis Technical College. Hollingsworth, who participated in the Career & Technical Education program at USU Kaysville, credits the Learn & Work program for making her a better instructor.
“This program meant so much to me, much more than I could possibly express,” she said. “It pushed me beyond my comfort zone and helped me explore new and innovative ways of teaching. I am continually finding ways to implement the knowledge I obtained. These classes helped expand my abilities to reach students in the most effective ways possible, something that is an ongoing tool and resource.”
Programs were available throughout the state at USU’s statewide campuses and online, in a variety of fields and industries. Ekaterina Tatarovich, who owns her own manufacturing business in La Sal, participated in classes held at Dustless Technologies.
“I went through the Additive Manufacturing course,” said Tatarovich. “This scholarship provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skill set. I do various manufacturing, mainly focused on sculpture and custom metalwork. Through this program I received a very good foundation to build on. I am already starting to incorporate the skills I learned into my business.”
Another Additive Manufacturing student was Justin Slaughter, who also attended classes at Dustless in Price. Slaughter worked as a coal miner before his mine shut down in April 2020. Speaking with advisors at USU, he was told about the CARES Act, and jumped at the opportunity to get into a new career field that has growth potential in his area.
“The financial aid allowed me to go back to school and gain new skills,” Slaughter said. “And these skills are helping me as I seek out a new career. It was a great opportunity to see the additive manufacturing that Dustless does on a day-to-day basis and to be hands-on with that. It opened my eyes that there are industries still out there that are up-and-coming and hopefully this skill set will be useful for a long time in Castle Valley.”
As part of the Learn & Work program, USU also sponsored 60 business owners from across the state in USU’s Small Business Development program. This is a community program for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Center for Entrepreneurship of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. The 60 business owners and their companies represented a wide variety of industries.
Participants took part in a 20-module online training program that covered the basic topics for starting, launching, funding, marketing, and scaling a business. Additionally, student interns trained in small business consulting were available to help businesses with website development, social media, marketing, accounting, inventory management and other topics. This program was designed to help business owners rethink, relaunch, revive, and grow their companies. The class took place during the fall 2020 semester, with future classes planned for additional participants.
Information about USU’s learn and work programs can be found at usu.edu/learnwork.