Partnership between private industry and the public sector will be the key to moving Utahns from the welfare rolls into productive jobs, according to the director of a new project.

The Single Parent Economic Independence Demonstration Project hopes to assist the "96 percent of all welfare recipients who are single parents struggling to support a family," Susan Sheehan said."We're putting all groups together to assist in conquering existing barriers, and we're reaching out to the private sector," she said.

The pilot project is being coordinated by the Davis County Employment and Training office, but also includes participation by the Bear River Association of Governments in Logan, Salt Lake County Division of Job Training and Development and a five-county effort based in St. George.

The project asks businesses to commit a member of management as a mentor to interact with participants, Sheehan said. Businesses don't have to pay a salary to participants, who act as interns for three to six months. The usual heavy paperwork is also virtually eliminated, she said.

The program is open to single parents or displaced homemakers. To be considered, one has to demonstrate a desire to be independent, have a GED or high school diploma and pre-employment training.

On the job, an intern can gain valuable work experience as well as a network of professional friends and supporters who can help him find a job. The firm that provides the internship is not obligated to hire the intern.

Interns will receive financial support during participation, based on individual situations. Utah is one of six states participating in the program.

For more information, call 451-7862 in Davis County; 468-3246 in Salt Lake County; 752-7242 in Cache-Rich-Box Elder counties region and 673-3548 in southern Utah.