From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia SkillUpUtah says it is a one-stop shop for job seekers to browse training programs as the novel coronavirus has altered the workforce. More than a dozen businesses in Waltham have been targeted since the AG's office started collecting complaints in May. More people viewed portions of the online-only Comic-Con International this weekend than could ever fit in the San Diego Convention Center. But online buzz didn’t match the viral reach of past years. One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic. (Bloomberg) — Shopify Inc. nearly doubled its revenue in the second quarter, crushing analysts’ estimates as a flood of merchants moved their businesses online during the coronavirus pandemic.Sales grew 97% to $714.3 million from the same quarter a year ago, Ottawa-based Shopify said in a statement
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New tool aims to connect out-of-work Utahns to job training from colleges, companies
SALT LAKE CITY — A new online tool seeks to help Utahns who lost their jobs in the pandemic connect to training that could help them find work in sectors that are hiring, like technology, manufacturing and health care.
Colleges in Utah have long offered certificate and training programs. But the business and education leaders behind the SkillUpUtah initiative say they created a one-stop shop for job seekers to browse those programs and others from companies like LinkedIn and Pluralsight.
“It’s not a set program or a set curriculum,” Trent Kaufman, CEO of the management consulting firm Cicero Group, said at a Wednesday news conference announcing the tool. “It’s a centralized hub of curated resources available to unemployed and underemployed.”
A person can also connect with mentors and show up on the radar of employers, who can then make offers on the platform created by the Utah-based advertising agency Struck, Kaufman said. While some of the trainings are free, others are being offered at a discount.
The announcement of the new resource comes as many in the Beehive State have returned to work but still tens of thousands of Utahns remain unemployed. After the state reopened in May, unemployment claims dipped from a high of nearly 126,200 that month down to roughly 88,100 for the week ending July 18, according to data from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the most recent available.
The current employment crunch redefined a longer-term plan to help more Utahns land in-demand jobs, Kaufman said.
Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez said it’s important to strengthen ties between education and industry, and to ensure workers are continually getting new training.
“But we don’t stop there,” she said. “The student is not just an automaton that we’re just processing to become a worker, to become a cog somewhere. We’re also a yes to broader, deeper, greater education, whether it’s about history, democracy, learning how to communicate or to collaborate, to have empathy in the age of artificial intelligence.”
The initiative will draw some of its funding from money made available in the federal coronavirus relief bill.
Utah lawmakers set aside $9 million of that money for job-training programs within the state’s network of public colleges, helping to provide scholarships for tuition, books or other materials, said Jessica Gilmore, associate commissioner for workforce development in the Utah System of Higher Education.
Gillmore said the state system is focused on helping not just those who have lost jobs or had their hours cut, but also workers who are vulnerable to layoffs and want to boost their skills to become more valuable.
An advisory committee of employers is helping determine the sorts of trainings from the universities, colleges and technical schools under the umbrella of the state system, added Dave Woolstenhulme, commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education.
Those seeking lessons ranging from just a few hours to more long-term training can also take courses online from nonprofit universities or the fully online BYU Pathways Worldwide. An initial group of programs has been posted, with more set to follow, Kaufman said.
Author: Annie Knox
Waltham Businesses Hit With Coronavirus Safety Complaints
WALTHAM, MA — More than a dozen Waltham businesses have been the target of 31 complaints filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office for failing to protect workers and customers from the coronavirus.
The office began accepting complaints from an online portal on May 20. Statewide, more than 1,300 complaints have been filed in the two months since the online complaint form was launched.
In Waltham, TG Gallagher has been targeted in 10 complaints, though many of them came in at the exact same time, so it’s possible some are duplicates. Most of those complaints centered on a lack of personal protective equipment, but also ranged from requiring people who have tested positive to work, not observing proper social distancing and having too many people. The public library has been the subject of six complaints, ranging from concern about disinfecting to not making accommodations for employees with concern to work remotely.
You can view all the complaints filed through July 20 on this spreadsheet.
In most instances, the AG’s Office doesn’t have enforcement authority on health and safety issues. OSHA, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards and, in some cases, local authorities, are charged with enforcement.
But the AG’s Fair Labor Division has been responding to complaints by letting consumers and workers know their rights, reaching out to employers targeted in complaints and making referrals to other local, state and federal agencies.
Safety concerns can be reported by using the online portal or by calling AG’s Fair Labor Hotline at 617-727-3465.
Dave Copeland contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on the Waltham Patch
Author: Jenna Fisher
Analysis: Comic-Con 2020: Some panel participation topped 200K views, but did the online event work?
More people viewed portions of the online-only Comic-Con International this weekend than could ever fit in the San Diego Convention Center. But online buzz didn’t match the viral reach of past years.
San Diego’s biggest event was forced to go fully on the internet for its 51st year because of COVID-19. More than 300 panels, which would normally be spread out throughout the center and parts of downtown, were uploaded steadily to YouTube over five days. All were free to view.
The event is typically limited to 135,000 attendees but two panels topped 200,000 views — the TV show “Vikings” and the movie, “The New Mutants.” Normally, those events would have been held in Comic-Con’s biggest room, Hall H, which has a capacity of 6,500 people.
Measuring the success of the convention is tricky. Fan responses were mostly appreciative and positive over social media, but a lack of big names, like Marvel Studios, and the new format may have limited its impact. Analytics firm ListenFirst told Variety that social media traffic for the online event was considerably down compared to last year with 95% fewer mentions on Twitter.
Viewership isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison vis a vis the in-person show. That’s because panels can be viewed online long after they first go live, and it is hard to tell if people who were viewing the event would have actually bought tickets.
However, it might give studio executives a better indication of what is actually connecting with fans. For instance, in 2019, Hall H was at capacity for Entertainment Weekly’s “Women Who Kick Ass” panel, but was everyone there for that or for Marvel Studios that was happening right after that panel?
Fans of Comic-Con set up a makeshift memorial on July 22, 2020 in San Diego, California. 2020 Comic-Con International occurred as a virtual event, Comic-Con@Home, this year due to the coronavirus epidemic. (Daniel Knighton/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Wendy Patrick, a social media expert and business lecturer at San Diego State University, said seeing the YouTube views could give organizers a better sense of what is really a priority for fans. She considered the views for the event high considering so much is missing from the usual Comic-Con — activations outside, people roaming around in elaborate costumes, and the energy of a live convention.
“That just goes to show you the amount of interest, even though they are missing all the excitement, all the energy,” she said. “I mean, the whole town goes crazy for a couple of days. You can’t recreate that online. Not even close.”
Patrick said Comic-Con@Home allowed people who would not normally be able to attend the gathering to see it online, and that might actually increase interest for first-time attendees when it returns in subsequent years.
There were, of course, a lot of niche panels that attracted little online attention. For instance, a panel from a smaller Syracuse, New York-based comic book company called Ahoy Comics had 281 views as of Monday morning.
“I think the menu is too broad, that many people won’t scroll through that many choices,” Patrick said.
Organizers of Comic-Con International were not available for an interview Monday so it is unclear how it is measuring success. The event was missing some of its biggest names — the film divisions of DC and Marvel, as well as “Star Wars” — so most Comic-Con watchers were prepared for less buzz than previous years.
Here are the most popular Comic-Con@Home panels (as of Monday morning), based on number of views:
The History show won the prize for the most views with a panel that featured showrunner Michael Hirst and five of the program’s stars. Anticipation is high for “Vikings,” with its sixth season finishing this year and bringing to an end the popular drama.
The New Mutants: 208,410 views
Possibly the last X-Men film of the 20th Century Fox era, “The New Mutants” has been delayed repeatedly since 2018 but excitement for the film appears to be growing. Surprisingly, the panel did not announce that the film would be released on streaming platforms, as many fans had expected, but that it would be in theaters Aug. 28. It seems like a strange release date considering most theaters in the United States are still closed because of the pandemic.
The Walking Dead: 85,029 views
A zombie epic that has now spread into three shows, “The Walking Dead” continued its major presence at Comic-Con with its flagship show on Friday. The panel featured preview clips and its biggest star, Norman Reedus.
Star Trek Universe: 63,213 views
The Star Trek panel was one of the few at the convention that came with major announcements. CBS producers confirmed a new show called “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” that will revisit classic characters over 10 episodes and a kid-friendly animated show on Nickelodeon called “Star Trek: Prodigy” premiering in 2021.
Fear the Walking Dead: 69,534 views
A spinoff of “The Walking Dead,” the “Fear the Walking Dead” has a large following in its own right.
Constantine: 58,258 views
A 15th anniversary panel on the film “Constantine,” starring Keanu Reeves, turned out to be a big hit by being one of Comic-Con’s most popular panels. The movie has become a cult favorite and Reeves’ star power turned out to be a big draw. Despite some wishful think from some fans, no sequel was announced.
Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” is a violent comedy about superheroes in the real world and fans were treated to new scenes from the highly-anticipated second season.
Charlize Theron: 48,281 views
Actress Charlize Theron was given a panel all to herself to discuss her action film career. Highlights included insights on newer films “The Old Guard” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” as well as her first big action role in the 2005 “‘on Flux.”
His Dark Materials: 43,996 views
The HBO show, based on a series of fantasy novels, showcased some of its biggest stars, including Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Bill & Ted Face the Music: 41,958 views
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” will be the third film in the franchise, coming almost 30 years after the last film. Star Keanu Reeves will reprise his role and was featured in the panel.
Author: Phillip Molnar, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Union approves teachers to walk if wary of work
One of the nation’s largest teachers unions is authorizing its members to strike if their schools plan to reopen without proper safety measures in the middle of the global pandemic.
The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying that it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans.
In providing its blessing, the union is also offering local chapters access to its financial and legal resources as they navigate a return to the classroom. Union officials said they will provide legal support, communications support and staffing to chapters that vote to strike.
Although the measure says strikes should be considered only as a “last resort,” it lists conditions the organization wants met for schools to reopen. It says buildings should reopen only in areas with lower virus rates, and only if schools require masks, update ventilation systems and make changes to space students apart.
In announcing the measure, the union’s president blasted President Donald Trump for pressuring schools to reopen even as the virus continues to surge. Randi Weingarten called Trump’s response “chaotic and catastrophic,” saying it has left teachers afraid.
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“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their educators,” Weingarten said. “But if authorities don’t protect the safety and health of those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted last week, nothing is off the table.”
The union’s leaders approved the resolution Friday but announced it Tuesday at the group’s convention, which is being hosted online.
The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, separately said that its members will do “whatever it takes” to protect students.
“Nobody wants to see students back in the classroom more than educators, but when it comes to their safety, we’re not ready to take any options off the table,” the group’s president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, said in a statement.
For weeks, Trump has pressed for a full reopening of the nation’s schools. Last week he acknowledged that some schools may need to delay a return to in-person instruction, but he’s still asking Congress to withhold future virus relief to schools that fail to reopen.
Some of the nation’s largest public school districts are starting the school year online, including in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which has clashed with the city over its school reopening plan, said Tuesday that it isn’t ruling out a work stoppage.
“It’s long past time for our nation’s educators to come together and fight collectively for the common good — up to and including striking to ameliorate the social and economic inequalities at the root of the consequences of this insidious virus,” the union’s vice president, Stacy Davis Gates, said in a statement.
Davis Gates said any safety strike would include broader demands to support front-line workers, to provide broadband access to every student, to ensure universal health care and to get “a hard commitment from public officials to protect Black and brown lives, whose neighborhoods are disproportionately bearing the burden of death and illness from covid-19.”
In Massachusetts, nurses represented by the Boston Teachers Union are planning a sit-in today at City Hall over the city’s reopening plan. The nurses are calling for rapid testing in schools to identify covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They also want more protective equipment for nurses and teachers and assessments of air quality in school buildings, among other measures.
In Ohio’s largest district, about 2,700 Columbus City Schools educators had previously signed a letter calling on leaders to start the fall term online, with the union arguing that the stakes “are too high for experiments.”
They got their wish Tuesday as the district announced that it will start the year with virtual learning for all students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
For other districts planning to reopen, the federation’s safety demands could be difficult to meet. The union says schools should open only in areas where the infection rate among those tested for the disease, is below 5%, and where the transmission rate is below 1%. It also says local authorities must have plans to close schools if cases spike.
Along with mask requirements, the union is pushing schools to keep people 6 feet apart, to keep buildings and buses clean, and to make accommodations for teachers at greater risk of health problems if they contract covid-19.
For many schools, more funding will be needed to reopen safely, the union said. It estimates the average school will need at least $1.2 million, amounting to $116 billion nationwide. The resolution says Trump and Senate Republicans have “have failed to negotiate and pass a new stimulus bill to address the resources vitally needed for reopening our schools.”
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The latest stimulus proposal from the White House and Senate Republicans includes $105 billion for schools and colleges, though some of the money is only for schools that reopen for in-person classes. In May, the Democratic-led House included $100 billion for schools — none of it limited to those holding on-site classes — but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said even more money is needed.
In her speech, Weingarten said teachers want schools to reopen. Children need in-person instruction, she said, adding that remote instruction is “no substitute for it.” But she said teachers need to know they’ll be kept safe.
Before Trump began pressing schools to reopen, she said, a union poll found that its members were comfortable returning if proper safeguards were in place.
“Now they’re afraid and angry,” she said. “Many are quitting, retiring or writing their wills.”
Along with strikes, the union said it will fight unsafe reopening plans through lawsuits and labor grievances. The union’s Florida chapter filed a lawsuit last week attempting to block the state’s plan to reopen schools, which the suit called “reckless and unsafe.”
Information for this article was contributed by Kantele Franko of The Associated Press.
Author: COLLIN BINKLEY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Shopify Sales Double as Merchants Forced Into Online Future
(Bloomberg) — Shopify Inc. nearly doubled its revenue in the second quarter, crushing analysts’ estimates as a flood of merchants moved their businesses online during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sales grew 97% to $714.3 million from the same quarter a year ago, Ottawa-based Shopify said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts had expected about $512 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gross merchandise volume, a key metric that represents the value of all goods sold through Shopify’s platform, surged 119% from a year earlier or to $30.1 billion. Analysts were expecting a 49% increase to $20.6 billion. Sales of food, beverages and tobacco doubled over the first quarter, the company said.
“The strength of Shopify’s value proposition was on full display in our second quarter,” Chief Financial Officer Amy Shapero said in the quarterly release. “We are committed to transferring the benefits of scale to our merchants, helping them sell more and sell more efficiently, which is especially critical in this rapidly changing environment.”
E-commerce companies have been big winners of late, with the coronavirus closing many physical retail stores. Many analysts predict this boost will be lasting. Shopify shares jumped as much as 12.5% in early New York trading, touching a fresh high, and are up 169% this year.
New stores created on the Shopify platform grew 71% in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, driven in part by the company’s decision to extend the free-trial period on standard plans from 14 days to 90 days.
Large sellers continued to migrate to Shopify Plus, resulting in a record quarter for new merchant additions to the platform.
“Strong transactional revenue, far ahead of even the highest expectations, point to Covid-19 tailwinds that are stronger at SHOP than most anticipated,” said Citigroup analyst Walter Pritchard. “Key from here will be sustainability of demand from newly acquired merchants,” he said in a report.
Still, the company chose not to provide forecasts for the third quarter, citing uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. It said it’s monitoring the impact of rising unemployment on new store creation, consumer spending habits and the rate at which brick-and-mortar merchants move online. The tech company suspended its forecast full-year forecast in April.
This year, Shopify has formed partnerships with Walmart Inc. to expand its third-party marketplace site and with Affirm Inc. to allow consumers to break purchases into a series of smaller payments — moves aimed at stepping up competition with Amazon.com Inc.
Work From Home
The company said in May that it will keep its offices largely closed for the rest of the year as it designs its space for a “digital by default” mindset, adjusting to a remote work environment.
“This also represents an opportunity for Shopify to open up, further diversify our talent pool, unconstrained by physical location,” Shapero said on the earnings call today.
The company took a $31.6 million impairment charge as it exited some of its secondary offices in major cities, she said. Second-quarter results includes $37.1 million of incremental expenses related to changes in its facilities, she added.
After its shares more than quadrupled in 2019, Shopify blew past Royal Bank of Canada this year to become the most valuable company in Canada’s S&P/TSX Composite Index. It’s the best-performing company in the index this year.
“It remains clear that Shopify is at the right place and the right time with the leading e-commerce software and services platform enabling the ‘digital transformation” for thousands of businesses,” said Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.
(Updates with share price move, analyst comments and work from home details.)
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Author: Divya Balji