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Free college-level tech classes aim to help prepare more Utahns for work

Utah Tech University announced it is expanding the Learn and Work Program to offer free access via Pluralsight to over 7,000 non-credit courses, certification paths, labs and skill assessments.

Utah Tech University announced it is expanding the Learn and Work Program to offer free access via Pluralsight to over 7,000 non-credit courses, certification paths, labs and skill assessments. (Utah Tech University)


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ST. GEORGE — The Beehive State is home to a highly competitive job market that is rapidly growing and changing.

To keep up with this breakneck pace, Utah Tech University announced that this semester they are expanding their Learn and Work Program to offer free access via Pluralsight to over 7,000 noncredit-bearing courses, certification paths, labs and skill assessments.

Previously, the Learn and Work Program was run by the state. This year, when the state stopped funding the program, Utah Tech decided to not only continue it independently but expand it.

"It's designed for anyone in Utah that's looking to either get some technical skills or improve on the current technical skills they have," said Mark Adkins, Utah Tech's Learn and Work Program coordinator. "It's really just designed to kind of up-skill the workforce here in Utah via technology."

Utah Tech's Learn and Work Program takes advantage of the university's existing partnership with Pluralsight.

Through the program, participants can design their own track or leverage the 20 in-demand technological training specializations that UT has created. The technical skills acquired through the program can help individuals gain relevant experience in a variety of professions including web development, data analysis, cloud engineering and project management.

Adkins said that one benefit of the program is that it's all online and asynchronous, giving folks with busy schedules the ability to complete courses on their own time.

"If folks are working or if they have, you know, kind of life-type stuff, kids ... You just can fit it into your schedule when it works for you (as) opposed to going to a set class time," Adkins said.

To enroll, participants must be Utah residents and have a high school degree or equivalent.

Last year, Adkins said that the program had 120 students participate with 12 earning recognized industry certifications. This year, there are about 50 students — a number Adkins hopes to increase with more exposure and promotion.

"We're starting to kind of ramp up some of the advertisement — try to get the word out there more because it is a great program," Adkins said.

Beyond just getting more people enrolled, Adkins said he wants to get more people through the program and earning their recognized industry certifications.

As an extra incentive, if someone takes and passes an industry certification exam, Utah Tech will cover the cost of the exam.

According to a release from the university, participants should be prepared to commit five to 10 hours per week toward the program. While the program is a non-credit program, students can apply for prior learning assessments and earn elective credits from Utah Tech.

"If the community as a whole gets up-skilled, we're all better off for it," Adkins said.

People can learn more and apply for the Learn and Work Program online, at cares.utahtech.edu.

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.

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