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Utah business leader heads to India for skilled workers

SALT LAKE CITY – The Chairman of Utah’s Board of Regents is traveling to India later this month in search of skilled workers.

Harris Simmons, who is also chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorp, says, in India, there are “skill sets we just can’t find here.”

“I never thought I’d actually find myself doing that,” Simmons said. “We’re a Utah institution and have always been able to source locally.”

Simmons says he needs more than cybersecurity people, whom he could hire “all day long.”

He addressed the Utah Legislature’s Higher Education Strategic Planning Commission along with Michael Bouwhuis, the interim Commissioner of Technical Education.

Bouwhuis told a story from a plumbing business owner in Davis County.

“And this little company says, ‘I couldn’t bid on $33 million worth of work this year because I didn’t have people,’” Bouwhuis said.

These leaders called for Utah to prioritize lifelong, technical learning like it prioritizes roads and transportation.

They also called for more partnerships with employers, adding that employers cannot just wait for Utah’s educational system to just churn out new, highly-skilled workers.

State education leaders also at this meeting say they’re coming up with ways to help families better navigate the post-high school world, and enlisting “near peer” mentors, recent college graduates, to help them with school and the starts of their careers.