In a season full of parties, this one was different. It was a graduation party.
Eighteen people, ranging in age from 18 to 50-something, gathered at the Salt Lake Community College to congratulate themselves and each other on completing the Back to Work program - eight weeks of intensive eight-hour days, plus nights filled with homework.The program, according to teacher Marilyn Hibbert, is designed to give people who have never been in the work force or those who have been out of it for a while the skills they will need to compete for jobs.
Each graduate received a state certificate of competency in WordPerfect 5.0 and Lotus computer work, as well as training in accounting, machine transcriptions, 10-key operation and speed typing. At the end of the course, representatives from Job Service tested the students and certified them. Job Service will also help them with job placement and skills like resume-writing.
In giving the graduation address, Tina Betts spoke of the close relationships formed in the class - some of the friendships spanning a 30-year age difference - and complimented the group on its closeness. They encouraged each other and helped out all the way through the course, she said.
The Back to Work program is one of many programs that can benefit displaced homemakers. But those who married young and never continued their education, those changing careers and those who are coming back after a long absence also benefit from the classes, which are in their second year.
Courses like Back to Work will probably be used increasingly to satisfy some of the job training requirements for the Family Support Act, federal welfare reform that Utah began implementing in October.