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DATA MAY BE USED TO TRACK GRADUATES

The State Industrial Commission's Employment Security Advisory Council likes the concept of using Utah Department of Employment Security data to track graduates of Utah's applied technology education program.

Making the proposal to the council was Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, who said that by using the department's database, applied technology officials can track graduates to see if they found work in their chosen profession and ask employers about salaries.The graduates would be tracked through Social Security numbers supplied by the department.

Another use would be to determine if applied technology money is being spent wisely. A recent legislative auditors general's audit questioned why money was being spent on training programs when no jobs are available.

Larry Bunkall, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, said he was concerned about confidentiality of the data, especially wages. He was assured that when the information was used it would be as a group and no person or company would be identified.

Bunkall also wondered if sending questionnaires to companies to voluntarily provide the information would result in enough responses to make a valid survey, and he didn't like businesses being mandated to provide the figures.

"When I was a teacher at Viewmont High School I was asked to do some follow-up on students, and when I called some companies I was told `it's none of your business.' "

Despite Bunkall's concerns, the committee approved the concept, and applied technology officials said they would supply the council with more detailed information later.