National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today addressed a sold-out luncheon at the National Press Club, where she discussed her yearlong effort, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow's Jobs.
The initiative will focus on improving state education and workforce training systems and aligning those systems with the needs of individual state economies.
"Preparing our workforce to keep pace and remain competitive isan issue that calls for national attention and demands gubernatorial leadership," Gov. Fallin said. "Our future economic security will require significant improvements to our education system and workforce training programs. It will also require closer relationships among our high schools, colleges, career-tech programs, workforce training providers and employers."
Nearly 50 years ago, more than 75 percent of all jobs required only a high school diploma or less and most paid a good wage. Today that number has dropped to roughly 40 percent for jobs available to high school graduates and dropouts--and more than two-thirds of those jobs pay less than $25,000 a year.
"While a high school diploma was sufficient for our parents' generation to have access to a good life, today a postsecondary degree or relevant workforce certificate is the "new minimum,'" continued Gov. Fallin. "If we fail to provide our students with opportunities to successfully navigate postsecondary education, it will cap their potential and their choices. It will limit their access to the middle class and beyond."
Nationally, just more than three-quarters of public high school students make it to graduation. And of those who currently continue their education, only about half finish a degree or formal workforce certification program.
"Our goals moving forward are clear," said Gov. Fallin. "First, get more students to meet higher standards by the end of high school. Second, create opportunities for them--and returning adults--to successfully complete a degree or career-training program to pave their path to a well-paying job."
America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow's Jobswill specifically focus on five key elements to help states overcome the gaps between their education and training systems and the workforce those systems are preparing young people to enter:
A statewide vision;
Integrated and improved data systems;
High-quality public-private partnerships;
Alignment of federal and state funding and other resources; and
State incentives to support cross-system integration.
Gov. Fallinalso announced three regional summits: two this fall in Connecticut and New Mexico, and one in the spring in Oklahoma City.
"These efforts will engage education, business and government leaders in a dialogue about the actions governors can take to more closely align these systems to better prepare our young people," Fallin concluded. "Our economic security depends on it."