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Cox, Henderson sign executive order for 'returnship' to help out-of-work Utahns

Posted at 1:02 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 19:12:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In their weekly COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Diedre Henderson announced a new executive order that seeks to help Utahns get the skills and training needed to re-enter the workforce.

Executive Order 2021-8, called 'Expanding Return to Work and Returnship Opportunities in Utah,' gives $15 million in new grant funding to the Learn & Work program.

It also requires state agencies to identify and create new returnship opportunities for people across the state.

Read: Over 500K Utahns fully vaccinated for COVID-19; no counties remain on 'High' transmission index

"Unlike internships, which are designed primarily for young people at the beginning of their careers, the goal of a returnship program is to help experienced adults re-enter the workforce without starting at the bottom of the career ladder," said Lieutenant Governor Henderson during the press conference held at the Northrup Grumman facility in Roy.

The returnship initiative is the first of its kind by a state government in the U.S. It is primarily targeted at women and mothers who have been more heavily impacted by the effects of the pandemic on the job market.

"From 2019 to 2020, Utah women lost twice as many jobs as Utah men," Henderson said.

Read: More women needed in Utah's tech sector, expert says

It's also open to anyone who has taken time away from their career and wishes to pick up where they left off, or transition into a new job.

"Such as full-time parents, military personnel or their spouses, caregivers, professionals who may have left their careers to advance their education, or retirees," Henderson said.

Returnships will give people access to training, updated experience for their resumes, as well as mentorship opportunities and new skills needed in the modern workforce.

"The purpose of this returnship initiative is not only to help people who want to get back to work, but also to help provide an innovative way for employers to find solutions to their workforce needs," Henderson said.

Read: SL County weighs future public health orders after COVID-19 'endgame'

The Returnship Initiative is broken into two tracks. The first track will give returnship opportunities in state government and local businesses.

"This path is for those who don't necessarily need additional education," Henderson added.

Northrup Grumman is one of the local businesses offering returnship opportunities.

"A twelve-week cohort that will bring in folks who've been out of work, specifically females and women, folks who have been out of work for at least two years and look for opportunities on where they might fit within our organization and the team," said Greg Manuel, Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Deterrence at Northrop Grumman.

Read: 'Learn and Work in Utah' tuition assistance program helps people during pandemic

Northrop Grumman's program, called I-Return, will help those in the cohort brush up on skills, or transition into a new career inside the organization.

"There's opportunity for them to figure out do they like us," Manuel said. "It's not just do we like them and are they a good match, but do they really like working for us and do they like working for this industry?"

All of the returnship positions, at Northrup Grumman and within state agencies, are paid positions and allow individuals to pick up their careers where they left off, rather than having to start from scratch.

More information on Northrup Grumman's I-Return program can be found here