ST. GEORGE — Southern Utahns interested in working from home can register for an online course to learn best practices and how to find legitimate remote work. Those interested also are invited to attend a free information meeting. The first one will be held Wednesday at noon in Santa Clara.
The Remote Work Professional Certificate Course is a four-week program offered by Utah State University Extension – Rural Online Initiative that provides specialized remote work training, said Jake Marino, who serves as a statewide program coordinator. Students will work independently online and participate in four interactive workshops over Zoom.
The purpose of the program is to increase employment opportunities in rural Utah, Marino said.
“The thinking is, a lot of the rural communities have limited employment opportunities … they have certain industries that may be being phased out or changing,” he said. “The goal of the program is to keep people in their communities where they want to be and to help economic development for rural Utah.”
Marino said he was forced into remote work during the pandemic, which allowed him to spend more time with his parents.
“My dad had cancer, kind of during the pandemic and ended up passing away in October of 2020,” he said. “I really developed an appreciation for remote work during that time because I was able to work from my parents’ house and spend time with my dad, which you know, now looking back, I just really, really treasure that time and it would not have been feasible for me to be there … if I wasn’t working remotely.”
He was later offered a job with USU to work on the Rural Online Initiative and Marino said he jumped at the opportunity because remote work can improve people’s home lives and allow people to remain in their communities and find work without moving to larger cities.
According to the United States Census Bureau, 9.1% of Utah’s workforce worked from home in 2020. Additionally, 9.6% of workers in Washington County and 8% in Iron County worked remotely.
Marino said there was an expectation that those who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic would later rejoin, but many have not due to obstacles like child care or transportation costs.
“It’s not worth the cost of what people get paid,” he said. “And so those people dropped out of the workforce and aren’t intending to go back.”
Remote employment could alleviate some of those concerns while still allowing people to work, Marino said, adding that the scope of remote work is more extensive than many realize. A 2020 study conducted by the University of Chicago found that 37% of jobs in the United States can be done from home.
Marino said that remote workers can face unique challenges such as feelings of isolation, feeling invisible, experiencing burnout or struggling to maintain a work-life balance.
“Sometimes those things can bleed over,” he said. “Like your home life can invade you while you’re on work time and then sometimes your work time can extend beyond when it should, and you might be working more hours than you intend to.”
Course participants will receive tips to help prevent or handle the types of obstacles remote workers may face, Marino said.
Remote Work Professional Certificate Course
The course will offer training on necessary equipment and specific programs used for remote work, setting up an office, planning a workday and working autonomously, Marino said.
According to the website, the course will prepare students for remote work by helping them to develop tools such as a digital work portfolio, a career development plan and a project and workflow plan.
Participants can take additional professional development courses to continue learning skills, Marino said, adding that a course on using LinkedIn to find employment was recently offered.
Additionally, Marino said individuals taking the course may be referred to job postings from employers who’ve reached out to the initiative looking to fill remote positions.
According to the Initiative’s 2021 Annual Program Report, a sample of 25% of course graduates from September 2020 to June 2021 filled out a short survey, which revealed that 28% of participants found remote work and the median salary for those individuals increased by 88% overall. Additionally, 86% of those who did not find remote work said they were confident they could.
Participants have reported finding work in fields such as banking, travel, business and health care, according to the site’s Sucess Stories page. Washington County resident Chad Roberts said he was able to become a Medicare adviser after taking the course.
Iron and Washington County residents can register for $20. The next course is set to run from June 6 to July 1, with an application deadline of June 1 at noon, according to the initiative’s website.
Additionally, the Rural Online Initiative is hosting two events where attendees can learn about the course and remote work opportunities with Remote Online Initiative representatives on Wednesday, Marino said.
Santa Clara event details
- What: Remote Work Information Meeting – Santa Clara
- When: May 18, at noon
- Where: Santa Clara City Hall, 2603 Santa Clara Drive, Santa Clara, Utah
- Admission: Free
Parowan event details
- What: Remote Work Opportunities – Parowan Information Meeting
- When: May 18, at 6 p.m.
- Where: Parowan Public Library, 16 South Main Street, Parowan, Utah
- Admission: Free
For more information visit USU Extension – Rural Online Intitiative’s website.
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