BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Return Utah helping those with career gaps to rejoin the workforce

Feb 9, 2023, 10:49 AM

View of Salt Lake City pictured, return Utah is helping get people back into workforce...

Aerial view of Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A  public program is helping Utahns return to the labor force. This program was established by the government to fill vacant jobs in Utah and help citizens feel confident working again.

Return Utah was announced in April 2021 as the first public program of its kind in the country. It aims to specifically recruit people who have taken career gaps to work for the state.

Typically, those who take career breaks have a lower chance of getting a job due to the gap in their resumes.

“We’ve all been told, right, that recruiters don’t look down at a career gap very well. And if there’s a gap in chronological order that it’s a red flag,” said Return Utah Program Manager Shayann Baker.

The program’s goal is to re-train adults with previous experience. It also requires state employers to consider all candidates, even those with career gaps.

Return Utah has been helping fill state jobs that have been vacant since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It utilizes “returnships”, which are like internships for experienced adults, to train them on the advancements they’ve missed.

“In our case, a returnship is a 16-week period where a person is hired for a job. And for 16 weeks they do that job and then they receive transitional support,” said Baker.

To date, the program has helped get about 40 people back into the labor force. It’s now working to extend its services into the private sector.

“What Return Utah does is it allows access to a pool of candidates that were otherwise overlooked,” Baker said.

The program has traditionally hired in groups every few months, but now, it’s hiring year-round with rolling admissions.

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Return Utah helping those with career gaps to rejoin the workforce