ST. GEORGE — In response to the economical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dixie State University has launched a certificate program that will train people for jobs that are in high demand.
The DSU CARES program, funded by the coronavirus relief bill, was developed to assist local residents whose employment has been affected by COVID-19. In order to qualify for this program, a person must have both completed high school (or the equivalent) and been recently furloughed, laid-off or underemployed due to the pandemic.
The program offers a number of certificate programs in business, technology and health care at a significant discount – courses are just $20 per credit, which is a 90% savings off regular tuition.
Darlene Dilley, assistant vice president for enrollment management, told St. George News that some of the certificates that have received initial approval include: accounting and information systems and marketing, advanced emergency medical technician, information technology, medical laboratory assistant and design. There is a second round of certificates currently in the approval process, she said.
“It’s extremely affordable, so it’s $20 a credit hour and that is all-inclusive, so that includes books and supplies,” she said. “But we did set these up so students could apply for federal financial aid as well. So they would be eligible to file a FAFSA and any of those monies would be able to – once tuition is paid – put toward those other expenses.”
These are full programs, where upon completion, students receive a certificate and then each one of those certificate programs may also be embedded into a bachelor’s degree pathway, Dr. Pam Cantrell, Dixie State’s associate provost for academic planning, told St. George News.
“Then, if they wish, they are already partway to completing a bachelor’s degree,” she said, “so then they can just go in and complete it.”
Cantrell said they suspect that some of the individuals who participate in this program will have some college credits, and so the program is designed to meet people where they are and put them on the track to finishing a full bachelor’s degree if desired.
Many of the courses will be held primarily in the evening but also online and/or blended.
“We’re targeting toward the adult learner who has a life outside of the university, and so evenings are generally better for that population,” she said.
The length of the programs varies: some of the programs can be finished during the fall semester while others carry into spring. As of Thursday morning, 90 people were enrolled in the program, which leaves just over 100 seats left available.
For some people, this opportunity has offered a light of hope.
“There have been some who have been almost emotional about the opportunity because COVID has hit everybody so hard,” Cantrell said, “and what they see is an opportunity to upscale, to pivot in their careers or to get a jump-start on finishing a degree that will help them with employment.”
The program is supported by the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Talent Ready Utah team, in partnership with the Utah System of Higher Education. It is also a part of the Learn & Work initiative that offers courses designed to train people for local, high-demand jobs.
Kimberlee Carlile, director of Talent Ready Utah, told St. George News that this initiative provided $9 million dollars to institutions of higher education across the state of Utah to be able to apply for funding for short-term training programs.
“We have been able to fund 130 different short-term training programs across the state,” she said, adding that almost all of these training programs are tuition-free for individuals.
Though they can’t guarantee anyone a job after completing a training program, Carlile said they have worked hard to identify areas of high demand.
“We looked very closely at the programs to make sure that they are in a high-demand industry,” she said, “and each institution works with their local industry partners while applying for these programs to make they are going to meet their needs.”
Carlile said that Talent Ready Utah plans to continue working to close the gap between education and industry to make sure that people have the best track forward.
Cantrell said those interested in enrolling in one of the training programs should sign up on Dixie’s website. Most programs begin on Aug 24., but they will keep applications open until the programs are full.