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Training program delivers high-tech skills, job prospects for locals

A training program which will teach cut and sew and plastic molding skills to local adults, and a program that will teach a myriad of technology to teenagers is projected to come to Price within the next three months, the Business Expansion and Retention general board was told on Sept 13.
That message came from Nicholina Womak of FutureINDesign, a nonprofit organization that is being funded by an EDA grant.
“After being laid off from my job in 2015 I started thinking about some of the under served populations I had worked with and had this idea that with some help we could create some pathways for them to succeed,” she said. “That was the birth of FutureINDesign.”
 She said they wanted to create a plan in which students and adults could be put in a program that would teach skills to work in high technology areas without them having to earn a complete college degree. She said in working with people on the west side of Salt Lake there were a lot of talented people going completely unnoticed by booming technology companies.
“But what these companies wanted, and weren’t finding, was great employees with the right attitude, that would work hard,” she stated. “ I started working with these companies and told them what we planned on doing with these students that we had contacted and the thing that stopped the company representatives in their tracks was that we were going to teach soft skills. That’s what they were excited about.”
The first cohort started with nine students and the program graduated five. Then those students went on to a University of Utah boot camp for computer programming.
“They are all now employed in good paying jobs,” she said. “It was at that point  I knew we were onto something.”
So they started working more on their business model and the curriculum, with industry involved each step of the way.
Since then there has been a second cohort that was successful. Now they have 50 students enrolled in a two-year training program. They are learning back end and front end computer programming, graphic design and interface design. They are also working with a company that will give the students an A+ and Network+ certification. Best of all the students get this education for free, plus they get a job training stipend. Many of these students would go to work to help support their families at 14 or 15 years old so the stipend helps keep them on track.
Then she was introduced to Accelerant Business Systems, which proposed to her that just possibly she should look into taking a program to a rural area, and they helped her find a grant that could be written to do that.
“Most of my work had been around inner city populations,” she said. “I wondered if this was something rural America would want and need,” she said.
When she came to Price and started to meet the community members and realized what a talent pool there was in Carbon County and what a great need there was especially for the young adults she was convinced it was a good idea. So she wrote the grant.
It was also at that point that she met Blacksmith International. An outdoor apparel company; most of their work had been exported, but the owner really wanted to bring the jobs back to the United States. She asked him if he could provide livable wage jobs and he said yes. They told her they wanted to start with cut and sew training and manufacturing for the outdoor gear they produce. They also wanted to move toward injection molding as well to produce other products.
“I went to a conference and found that injection molding machines are high tech and that they fit right in with what many coal miners have done in running the equipment they have been using in mines,” she said.
Thus was formed a partnership to bring Blacksmith to Castle Country.
The grant that will provide all the training is $1.6 million, with $800,000 of it matched by FutureINDesign. That match can come from everything from volunteers, in kind donations, service and cash.
The grant came in last September.

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