An article in the Jan. 18 edition of The Wall Street Journal highlighted how Utah’s labor force growth is fueling economic expansion. The article mentioned, “Utah has had the fastest growing labor force of any U.S. state since January 2010.” According to the piece, Utah’s labor force has grown an average of 1.9 percent a year from 2010 through January 2018, more than triple the nation’s 0.6 percent pace. “More workers means more output, income and consumer spending. These trends, in turn, attract more employers and workers, fueling a virtuous cycle of growth.”

As an employee of Northrop Grumman, I know that the company, a longtime investor in higher education, has been working with other industry partners and state leaders to ensure that Utah’s workforce expansion continues to include highly qualified engineering graduates. Thanks to the legislative-sponsored Engineering Initiative which funds growth in engineering and computer science degrees, the number of technology graduates that the Utah System of Higher Education outputs has increased from 1,375 — when the Initiative began — to 3,283 last year. A request for funding this session will ask the state to continue that investment.

While most of the recent attention on workforce development has been focused on Silicon Slopes and the needs of companies in the emerging IT sector, the critical need for additional engineers among Utah’s defense, aerospace and manufacturing companies is often lost in the discussion. These vital industries have long been the backbone of Utah’s economy. Northrop Grumman, which acquired Orbital ATK last year, has multiple facilities across Utah. Last September, the company announced that in its composites manufacturing facility in Salt Lake County alone, it plans to add 100 jobs over the next several years. Our demand for engineers of all types remains high. This includes opportunities in the electrical, mechanical, systems and software trades. Read more…….