CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Dixie Technical College stands high above the heart of St. George like a beacon of opportunity amidst uncertain times. Once home to an airport, the 30-acre campus on Tech Ridge has transformed into a launching pad for career aspirations to take flight.
From welding and automotive to nursing and I.T., Dixie Tech programs are at the front line of training America’s essential workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for skilled workers in trades crucial to manufacturing, transportation and medical care.
Much like all public schooling institutions, operations at Dixie Tech were effectively halted during Utah’s red risk level lockdown, but hands-on learning has resumed with increased precautions, including more frequent sanitation, social distancing and use of masks.
“We’re back on campus now,” said Jennifer Forbes, vice president of marketing at Dixie Tech. “and experiencing a big increase in people who want to come here.”
One of eight fully accredited technical colleges in Utah, Dixie Tech is funded by state legislation and driven by occupational advisory committees consisting of local employers. These industry professionals review curriculum and teaching methods several times a year to ensure graduates will be prepared for success.
Approximately 95% of alumni secure jobs in their field of study, most of which are within the St. George area, and Forbes told St. George News that skilled laborers who graduate from Dixie Tech frequently earn more at their first job out of school than those with two- or four-year degrees.
“Our mission is to serve Washington County,” Forbes said. “We really do put people to work in our local communities.”
Dixie Tech launched in 2001 with just 26 enrolled adults across three programs. Today, the new campus serves a student body of nearly 1,200, with 27 programs running throughout the year.
The school will soon offer accelerated classes in welding, automotive tech, diesel tech and other skills for which they have observed great demand, Forbes said.
“The other thing that we’ve discovered in the pandemic is that people are very creative,” she said. “Our digital media design program has gone crazy.”
Typically, programs take six months to a year to complete, and through articulation agreements with Dixie State University, Utah Valley University and Utah State University, students can earn credit toward associate degrees in qualifying programs.
While the majority of students are between 18 and 26 years old, Forbes said all walks of life can benefit from enrolling at Dixie Tech, from a parent ready to pursue a career after raising the kids to lifelong learners looking to explore a different path.
Forbes said that having been in St. George for almost two decades has “really legitimized what we do.”
“Our new campus has changed people’s perception of technical education,” she said, adding that in the past, technical schools were often viewed as a dingy and dirty “less than” alternative for those who had difficulty learning, but that’s not the case anymore. Frequently, students arrive discouraged by past educational and workforce experiences but soon find renewed excitement for learning in an uplifting environment that stresses real world skill development.
Dixie Tech recognizes that some individuals learn best through a textbook and others by putting their hands on a motor. Beyond a skilled trade, they gain renewed confidence in their ability to learn and achieve success in their field.
“The idea of going to a technical college is not what it used to be,” Forbes said. “If you’re sitting around and wondering what’s next in your life, give technical education a try.”
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Dixie Technical College | Address: 610 S. Tech Ridge Drive, St. George | Telephone: 435-674-8400 | Website
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