'High-Quality Workforce' Responsible For Utah's Growth, Survey Shows

Mar 28, 2014

Thirty-three percent of Utahns think the state’s "exceptional workforce" is responsible for its economic growth, according to numbers from a poll by the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and Dan Jones & Associates.

Another 26 percent think the state’s quality of life is the main factor while 19 percent think incentives that encourage businesses to relocate and expand to Utah are the cause of growth.

"We know that businesses are looking for workers who are trained, who are skilled, who have a good work ethic, who come on time, who stay on the job task, who are healthy, and those are all components of a high-quality workforce for Utah," said Natalie Gochnour, an associate dean at the Eccles School.

The survey shows Utahns’ opinions on threats to the state’s economy in the future. Thirty-five percent think low levels of public education funding is the greatest threat, followed by 26 percent who think uncertainty in Washington and 24 percent who think the state’s air quality are the biggest threats.

Gochnour said business leaders are looking for investment and innovation in the state’s higher education and public education system.

"These are investments for growing enrollment, they're investments for technology in the classrooms, and while the investment has been serious in the state, we've got such a long ways to go in keeping with what we see in the other states that we compete with," she said.

Smaller class sizes, online teaching content and more guidance counselors are reforms Gochnour said are under consideration in Utah.

She said other challenges to Utah’s economic health are factors which are out of the state’s control, such as instability in Washington, economic slumps in Europe and Asia and the Ukrainian crisis, the latter of which has caused a sharp increase in grain prices worldwide.

More information on the survey can be found here.

-Eric Jungblut is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism at Utah State University.