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The Utah State Legislature recently approved a Strategic Workforce Initiative (SWI) grant to Southern Utah University to support the growth of the Utah Rotor Pathway Program, a government-industry-education partnership preparing Utah students for high-growth occupations while serving regional industry workforce needs. The grant totals $386,000 per year for three years, for a total of $1,158,000.
The grant monies will provide faculty to teach ground instruction in Utah high schools, fund a helicopter simulator that will be utilized for career and technical education instruction, and offer maintenance instruction in a hybrid online environment. The program also received an initial grant by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert through the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
The Utah Rotor Pathway Program was launched in the fall of 2019 with just two high schools participating. Since that time, 12 more high schools have signed up. Students from nine of Utah’s 29 counties can participate, including Beaver, Iron, Kane, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, Utah, Washington, and Wayne.
“I am grateful to the Utah state legislature for fully funding the SWI grant for the Utah Rotor Pathway Program,” said Cade Clark, VP of government affairs, Helicopter Association International and co-chair of the Rotor Pathway Program. “We have also benefited from the leadership of Gov. Herbert, Lt. Gov. Cox, and their team at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Talent Ready. The people of Utah should be proud that their state is investing today to build the workforce of tomorrow.”
Clark hopes that the Utah Rotor Pathway Program will serve as a national model for education and training programs that prepare students for STEM careers. “This type of program creates a win for everyone involved: students get the education they need for in-demand careers while industry creates a workforce development pipeline that enables it to grow. I salute everyone involved for being willing to step up and be part of a solution,” he said.
This first-in-the-nation program brings together industry, universities, and high schools to provide both helicopter pilot and maintenance training at the high school level. Industry partners offer high school students added benefits such as mentoring, internships, and the chance to interview upon completion of the college aviation programs.
Utah Pathway Program partners include Airbus, Air Methods, Cedar Valley High School, Classic Helicopters, the Gail Halvorsen Foundation, Guardian Flight, Intermountain Life Flight, Helicopter Association International, Mountain West Helicopters, Papillon, PHI, Safran Helicopter Engines, Southern Utah University, Sundance Helicopters, Universal Helicopters, Utah Division of Aeronautics, Utah Helicopter, Utah State Board of Education, Utah State University, and Utah Valley University.