SALT LAKE CITY — With scores of Utahns having already exhausted their unemployment benefits or on the verge of doing so, the state is unveiling a new effort to connect those individuals with employers that have thousands of positions just waiting to be filled.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services Wednesday launched a wide-scale media campaign and a new web portal to help link Utahns to an estimated 30,000 available jobs with employers looking to fill thousands of open positions. The Utah Jobs Support campaign and the Hot Jobs portal are designed to help job seekers find employers looking for people to hire.
Since March, many in the state have been receiving federally supplemented unemployment benefits, but that assistance is only temporary, said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, speaking Wednesday at a news conference announcing the new initiative. Noting jobless benefits for those left sidelined due to layoffs stemming from the impact of the global pandemic, most recipients will likely see any extended federal benefits expire after Dec. 31.
The Department of Workforce Services doesn’t want anyone to wait until that date to find their next job, he added.
“The impact of the pandemic has left many scrambling for employment as their previous line of work seeks to recover from the pandemic. The challenge becomes real when they may not be able to return to work before their benefits run out,” Cox said. “We don’t want anyone left standing on Jan. 1 with no benefits and no job. There are opportunities out there in multiple industries that are hiring today. We just need to connect people to these opportunities.”
He said state leaders have talked a lot over the past few months about “getting back to normal” and what that looks like.
“We put a significant amount of money into our jobs training programs, in higher ed, in our tech institutions, as well as through Workforce Services, so we really want to help our workforce get up-skilled and then to connect them with the jobs that are available,” he said.
The UT Job Support campaign was developed to help spread the message of the importance of not waiting for benefits to run out and to start looking at job opportunities that are currently available, a news release stated. The Department of Workforce Services has produced a series of television and online ads, outdoor billboards and radio spots to help connect people to the new Hot Jobs web portal at jobs.utah.gov, explained Nate McDonald, the department’s assistant deputy director.
He said industry organizations representing employers looking to fill openings have helped identify the top five jobs available in each segment. Job seekers can view openings along with employers that have jobs posted in various industry sectors, including construction, banking and finance, health care, manufacturing, advanced manufacturing, information technology and life sciences.
“The key to Utah’s economic recovery is getting people employed,” said Taylor Randall, economic recovery lead for Utah’s Unified Response Team and Dean of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. “This happens by strengthening consumer confidence and connecting people to the jobs that are available. In some cases, this means taking advantage of what is available rather than waiting for previous employment to come back.”
Since the pandemic struck, Workforce Services has taken to conducting virtual job fairs where prospective employees can join an online forum that allows them to interact with employers that need workers. St. George-based Wilson Electronics — a technology company that produces cellphone boosters — was one of the more than 80 Utah firms to participate in the events.
The company currently employers 275 people and is looking to reach 300 by year’s end, said talent acquisition specialist Shawn Jensen. He said this campaign can help them achieve that goal.
“We are currently looking to fill production and warehouse positions,” he said. “We’re behind in production, we’re so busy. We need to fill quite a few positions.”
With thousands of jobs available statewide, McDonald said there are numerous opportunities for individuals to find a job, whether it’s full or part time.
“The purpose and the focus of this campaign is to help people (realize) the job opportunities that are available right now in the different industries that are hiring,” he said. “As (individuals) are doing their job searches and their contacts, go to where the jobs are right now and apply for those jobs, and hopefully connect and find employment before their benefits run out.”
“You may have to start looking in a different industry or in a different field. It may be something temporary or something that you’re only looking to do for right now, or just to fill a gap till your industry does come back,” McDonald added. “But there are industries that are doing well right now from the pandemic and there are jobs that we hope to connect you (with) where those opportunities are.”