SALT LAKE CITY — Days after the announcement that Utah would opt out of federal unemployment pandemic assistance, the Department of Workforce Services launched a new campaign to promote its program to help Utahns get back into the workforce.
"We think now's a perfect time, with everything going on, to just let folks know, 'Hey, we're here, we're here to help, and here's some of the ways we can help you and it's all free resources," said Nycole Tylka, assistant director of workforce development division at DWS.
As of last week, 28,000 Utahns were receiving the extra $300 per week in unemployment assistance, or about $12.4 million in federal assistance a week. That weekly payment and other federal unemployment programs end June 26.
The DWS said it can help with its Career and Education Assistance program, which can provide:
Short-term training assistance for occupational certificates or licenses.
- On-the-job training directly from employers.
- Apprenticeships for classroom learning and paid hands-on experience in the field.
- Tuition assistance to help complete a GED certificate or college degree.
"If someone's thinking, 'Man, I would really like to go back to work, but I need higher wages,' or maybe they want to switch careers, they can apply for our career and education assistance," said Tylka.
Mike Henderson would know. He moved to the United States from Scotland 20 years ago to work in the sports events. It's all he ever knew until last year when the pandemic slammed the events industry.
"(Ragnar) was a great company to work for, but unfortunately, there was just no business coming in for us to survive," Henderson said. "So I had to redirect my thinking about what new career path I wanted to take."
About a year into unemployment, the Department of Workforce Services reached out to Henderson with information about the Career and Education Assistance program and Henderson said he "jumped on the bandwagon real quick."
With the help of DWS, Henderson took a course and passed the test for a project management professional certification, and just five weeks ago, he was back in the workforce, this time as a project engineer at Big D Construction.
"It's a little humbling starting right at the bottom again, doing something brand new, but it's also really good fun to start to learn a new skill," he said. "Getting onto the course, getting the certification, passing the exam is what has made the difference for me to be standing here right now working with this team."