IT Pathways Program is training for the future

By Becky GINOS

FARMINGTON—In an ever-changing technical world, students in Davis County will have a leg up as part of a new IT Pathways Program announced recently by Gov. Gary Herbert. Davis School District, Davis Tech College and Weber State University join two other regions piloting the program as part of the state’s Talent Ready Utah initiative. “The Pathways Program is a challenge given by Gov. Herbert,” said Kimberlee Carlile, director of Talent Initiatives in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). “He wanted to focus on the technical sector because it’s the fastest growing sector in Utah.” Utah had the greatest percentage of tech job growth in the nation in 2016 with careers in software and IT representing more than 68,000 jobs over 4,000 companies, according to material provided. “It brings together K-12 educational systems to build a pathway at any stage of life,” said Carlile. “People can get the training needed, get a job and enter the technical sector.” GOED and Silicon Slopes partnered in August 2017 to form the IT Pathways Program creating opportunities for students to take part in job shadows and possible internships with companies such as Dell EMC, DOMO, Instructure, Pluralsight, Workfront, Xactware, Qualtrics, Microsoft, Vivint and more. “Industry involvement gives them opportunities to participate in many areas,” she said. “It helps the companies too because they know what’s being taught and what is currently needed in the workforce. It will be good for students to get out and see what it looks like and have an opportunity to interact with these businesses.” This falls under Gov. Herbert’s Talent Ready Utah Initiative by bringing industry and education together, said Carlile. “It’s something we’re encouraging across the state to help fill jobs and train our workers across Utah.” Locally, Davis Tech College (DTC) will implement the program in three areas. “We will be focusing on cyber security, software development and web development,” said Kim Ziebarth Vice President of Instruction at DTC. “Students can earn certificates and then go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. Our goal is to not duplicate credits. When kids are in high school they can attend (DTC) tuition free and they can become eligible to get entry level positions in the workforce, earn a salary, receive mentoring and gain valuable experience that has relevance every day.” Ziebarth said DTC values the prior knowledge, skills and education that students bring with them. “We try to build on those skills so when they go to the university they’re not repeating what they’ve proven they already know,” she said. “DTC fills in the blanks in education to fulfill the needs in the industry. If we can get them in the door we can better meet their needs.” At the district level, Career & Technical Education Director Jay Welk said the IT Pathways complements two other pathways that have already been implemented, Utah Aerospace Pathway and Medical Innovations Pathway. “We’re very excited to be part of the governor’s roll out of the IT Pathways,” said Welk. “We’re also excited to team up with Davis Tech and Weber State. This is part of the governor’s overall plan. Our state has a 3.1 percent unemployment rate. We’re doing well and getting a lot of industry into our state but we need skilled workers.” The program is for K-12, he said. “We want to get kids exposed early on to technology. We already have keyboarding in the elementaries but now we’re adding coding,” he said. “Through project ‘Lead the Way’ children are learning app development. It’s basic for young kids but again, it exposes them to it.” At the junior high level, Welk said several schools offer creative coding, exploring computer science and computer programing courses. “At the high schools they have digital media, AP programming I and concurrent enrollment,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of good things in place but we are looking to expand offerings where we can.” The IT Pathways Program will be implemented in the fall and students in all of the district’s high schools can choose courses that focus on one of three IT areas, computer science, cyber security or digital media, according to the district. “There are so many more things in terms of careers that students can do,” Welk said. “Parents will help them in the direction they should go. I’m grateful to have this opportunity through IT Pathways.”


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