Adopt-a-school program to provide work-based learning for Utah students

State launched first-of-its-kind partnership between businesses and schools

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox took a brief break from the legislative session Wednesday to be on hand at the Stadler Rail facility to announce the launch of a first-of-its-kind program that provides work-based learning opportunities for K-12 students across the state.

Administered by Talent Ready Utah and powered by the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity, the Utah Adopt-A-School program partners businesses and schools to enhance student learning.

"We don't need every kid in the world to get a bachelor's degree. That's not good for our kids (and) it's not good for our economy," Cox said.

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a press conference to announce the launch of the Utah Adopt-A-School initiative, which connects employers and students for work-based learning, at Stadler Rail US in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Stadler Rail US offers a three-year apprenticeship program. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Businesses will have the opportunity to utilize Utah's education system as a tool for workforce development, and students throughout the state can receive opportunities through engagement activities in and out of the classroom to enhance learning through real-world application and work-based learning, something Cox said is very beneficial.

"Every study that we've seen has shown that work-based learning is good for kids. When kids have an experiential learning opportunity, they perform better on tests, in-class, all of those things," Cox said.

The governor, along with others who spoke, emphasized that work and education have been viewed as separate for too long, and the program serves as an opportunity to bridge that gap.

"Utah has incredible educators who dutifully instruct and lead the young people of our state. It's been a privilege for our team to support and bolster the important work already taking place in the classroom," said Derek Adams, chief technology officer of Brainstorm, Inc. "As we look first to meet our education partners where they're at, we can further the impact our efforts as business partners have on Utah's youth, its schools and communities."

Businesses and schools interested in partnering can learn more here. Education and industry partners can complete an online assessment, which the Talent Ready Utah team will use to bring together partnerships where goals, needs and resources align.