The Silicon Slopes continue to boom, but there is one element that threatens to put that to a halt - the talent pool. Lucky for us, the state of Utah is on it. Last month, the Talent Ready Utah Board unveiled a new statewide master plan to expand computer science education for all. The origin of this story is a small yet mighty House Bill. Weighing in at 184 lines, H.B. 227, set the groundwork from the state-level to create a master plan that makes accessing computer science education more possible.
For those currently scratching their heads, I’m going to break down what this means for the state of Utah. We’ll start with a brief deep dive into local politics, but I’ll keep it painless, I promise.
H.B. 227, aka the Utah Computer Science Grant Act, was introduced this last legislative session. It indicates that the Utah Talent Ready board will be tasked will creating a Master Plan to introduce more computer science oriented education into our public schools. The bill was made possible by a generous grant from Pluralsight. This grant was how Pluralsight and a few others making good on a promise made on the stage of the 2019 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. In a historic moment, 5 of Utah’s Top CEOs all pledge to donate $1 Million to increasing STEM education in our state. Cool, right?
That wasn’t so bad, was it? Now, let’s break down who these Talent Ready Utah folks are. Founded in March 2017, the Talent Ready Utah program is a state-run initiative that is dedicated to working as as a resource for educators, industry and other stakeholders. They strive to push forward efforts that local businesses are making to enhance education. This is already making so much more sense! Talent Ready Utah even promotes programs that provide unemployed and underemployed adults more opportunities to receive training/certifications for high-demand occupations.
It’s comforting to know that we are good hands. The board for Talent Ready Utah is absolutely stacked with community leaders that know what they are doing. With a few new additions, we have the following folks in our corner with a plan in hand:
- Val Hale, executive director, Governor’s Office of Economic Development
- Jon Pierpont, executive director, Utah Department of Workforce Services
- Dave Buhler, commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education
- Mike Bouwhuis, interim commissioner, Utah System of Technical Colleges
- Sydnee Dickson, state superintendent, Utah State Board of Education
- Derek Miller, president and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce
- Tami Pyfer, Gov. Hebert’s education advisor
- Rep. Cory Maloy, Utah State House of Representatives
- Sen. Ann Millner, Utah State Senate
- Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO, Pluralsight
- Charles (Chuck) Taylor, president, MSC Aerospace
- Andrea Moss, president, Nelnet
- Jeff Nelson, president, Nelson Laboratories
With all this new knowledge in your hands, the next question is, what’s the Master Plan? For those really needing a deep dive, see the full plan here. If you’re more interested in the highlights, keep ready. The Master Plan is sub-divided into six areas of focus.
Data and Reporting
First, they will measure the current state of computer science, education and technology across all the different regions of Utah. This will work to inform the state’s overall goals when it comes to increasing efforts in public schools.
Next, all teachers in Utah will be introduced to a professional development pipeline that will help them teach students the necessities of computer science pedagogy from kindergarten to seniors in high school.
Curriculum and Standards
Current curriculum will be revamped to make sure each grade level receives the computer science courses that make the most sense, when they make the most sense.
To provide computer science education to everyone, equity and diversity are being pushed to the forefront of the conversation.
Outreach and Communication
The master plan works beyond just schools, it aims to amplify efforts by having active communication about its goals with a variety of stakeholders.
The last step of the master plan is procuring additional funding to make sure that once this grant is spent, efforts won’t stall.
The best part of all of this? They aim to begin implementation as early as July 2020. Fear not the rapid growth of the Silicon Slopes, talent is on the way.