Colleges and universities dump a lot of graduates into the work force, and yet some in the work force still need additional, specialized training to perform well in the jobs they choose.

Both Salt Lake Community College and the Utah College of Applied Technology provide programs that allow regional employers to "custom fit" courses to meet employment needs. Businesses such as Stampin' UP!, Carlisle SynTec, Precision Laser Processing and others have taken advantage of the option because "they do a good job of assisting companies such as our own in making the right decisions," said Dave McCall, human resources supervisor for Carlisle SynTec.

Nearly 70 local employees for the roofing product-manufacturing company have recently participated in on-site training to enhance team-building skills, which McCall says is beneficial to employees when dealing with a large customer base, as well as interpersonal relations within the corporation.

"It is going to boost not only our employee morale and help show our commitment to our employees, but it's just going to be a positive thing all the way around," he said.

Utah's Custom Fit training program uses state funds to stimulate economic development, facilitate the creation of new jobs and provide businesses with a trained work force by providing company-specific customized employee training, according to SLCC spokesman Dave Jones.

According to specific parameters, the program can offer employers funding to train employees, thus producing a more skilled work force, which mimics the mission of the community college itself.

"It's comforting to know that there is a program like this out there that can help companies obtain the training that we want for our employees to bring them up to where they feel they need to be and to where we feel they need to be," McCall said.

Michelle Hatch, a Stampin' UP! department supervisor, did not attend college and has moved up with the company as it grew from its beginnings in Kanab. She opts into each and every training opportunity the company provides, including a beginning Spanish course which has helped her communicate with other employees.

"The training has made a world of difference to me," Hatch said. "I can talk to people better, I present myself better, I'm facing my fears — of which there are many — and it has made me feel important."

Stampin UP! applied for grant money with SLCC to help fund a series of communication training seminars that were presented to nearly 550 employees. The college helped gather materials and train on-site instructors for the company.

Various testimonials and notable improvements in the company proved that the Crucial Conversations training helped the employees in "all areas of their lives," said spokeswoman Paula Critchlow. "Salt Lake Community College just made it easier and more cost-effective to implement the crucial training."

Although funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, SLCC pays nearly half of training expenses as well as provides additional services to pull off many kinds of training. Scheduling is flexible, as well as the type of training offered as long as the recipient companies meet the requirements.

The training, Jones said, is not offered to nonprofit companies but those that are for profit and either new to the state or expanding and in need of upgraded and/or updated skills training for employees.

While SLCC serves primarily the Salt Lake and Tooele regions, UCAT provides similar programming in nearly every other region of the state. Companies of all sizes and types have taken advantage of Custom Fit to maintain a quality work force and strengthen various skills.

In designing a program to meet the needs of Carlisle SynTec, McCall said the Custom Fit contract/partnership with SLCC was what "kept us going in the right direction."


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