Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on KSL.com on August 1.
Nothing is as critical to a healthy economy as a well-educated and well-trained workforce. That applies to Utah’s ability to compete with the rest of the nation just as it applies to the ability of the United States to compete with the world. Businesses understand the importance of a first-class workforce and, here in Utah, they have shown a determination to make a difference. Eighteen chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and other education-minded business organizations have signed on to the Prosperity 2020 movement. They have set three specific education goals to reach by the end of the decade:
- 90 percent of all third graders, and 90 percent of all sixth graders to be proficient in reading and mathematics
- Two-thirds of all Utah adults to hold a college degree or skilled-trade certificate
- Salt Lake metropolitan area to rank in the Top 20 for concentration in science and engineering occupations
Business leaders understand change comes at a slower pace than many would like. That’s why Prosperity 2020 is a decade-long approach to such an essential element of our economic success.
Steps in the right direction
During the 2012 legislative session, the Prosperity 2020 movement advanced in several important ways. Hang around business leaders enough and you will repeatedly hear them say you cannot improve something unless you can measure it.
The Legislature passed a number of bills to give teachers increased access to tools to better assess student performance, allowing them to tailor their teaching to areas where students need the most attention. It is important to work with the Legislature and other elected officials to ensure Utah students get a quality education. But business leaders are not stopping there.
This week, business leaders introduced the Prosperity 2020 Business Promise, setting the goal of deploying 20,200 volunteers to Utah classrooms. The goal is simple: improve Utah’s educational outcomes by helping children learn reading, math and other important skills.
“Prosperity 2020 is calling for increased investment, innovation and accountability to achieve ambitious goals, but we aren’t standing by,” said Mark Bouchard, chair of Prosperity 2020 and senior managing director of CBRE, a Fortune 400 commercial real estate company with a significant presence in Utah. “Our Business Promise is a commitment to do our part by deploying 20,200 school volunteers. One student at a time, we will help raise the bar of success.”
The Prosperity 2020 Business Promise helps businesses connect their employees with opportunities to serve in schools and postsecondary institutions across the state via a web portal. From the hundreds of potential partnerships available on the site, businesses can find the program or school that best fits the resources they can give. One of those partnerships is KSL’s Read Today, a program dedicated to helping every child read and learn.
A workforce to fill the jobs
Utah’s economy is growing at twice the rate of the nation as a whole, adding over 25,000 jobs in the past 12 months. A quick glance at the list of businesses that are investing in Utah makes it clear we will need a first-class workforce to power our economy in the decades ahead. From Goldman Sachs to Adobe to ATK, and from Hexel Corporation, IM Flash and Intermountain Healthcare, we need to help today’s Utah students gain the skills and knowledge they need to power our economy and to create businesses and industries we cannot imagine today.
You can learn more about the Prosperity 2020 movement and the Utah Business Promise at prosperity2020.com.