Wednesday, May 10, 2017
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today announced that Oklahoma has received a grant to pursue the Launch Oklahoma goal she put forth in December (Executive Order 2016-41). This goal is to increase to 70 percent the number of Oklahomans, age 25-64, who complete a postsecondary degree, certificate or credential by the year 2025. Currently, only approximately 40 percent of the state’s residents have that level of education or training.*
“It is critical that Oklahoma faces the challenges of an increasingly high-tech and globally competitive world head-on, not only for the success of our state but also for the success of all Oklahomans,” said Fallin. “We must provide our students with the right skills to meet this ever-changing economy. Launch Oklahoma builds upon my existing Oklahoma Works initiative to ensure Oklahoma can attract companies that provide quality jobs and high wages. This grant will ensure that we will put Oklahoma on the path to meet labor demands, recruit new and grow current businesses, while increasing the opportunity for all Oklahomans to achieve the American Dream. I applaud the hard work of Education and Workforce Development Secretary Natalie Shirley and Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Erin Risley-Baird for securing this funding for this critical need.”
This grant from the Lumina Foundation will provide $100,000 towards enacting evidence-based policies aimed at decreasing attainment inequities among African American, American Indian, and Hispanic populations. It will also provide assistance for targeted promotion of education, training and certificate programs for high-demand occupations among older Oklahomans, as well as lower-income and underserved populations. The grant is effective May 15, 2017 to May 14, 2018.
“We applaud Oklahoma for its commitment to increasing education attainment beyond high school,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and chief executive officer. “Today’s workplace demands a greater breadth and depth of talent, and Oklahoma is wise to pursue a strategy focused on ensuring its residents possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in our rapidly changing labor market.”
Launch Oklahoma was developed as a result of recommendations by the Oklahoma Works Leadership Team, led by Secretary Shirley. The team includes representatives from higher education, CareerTech, the state Department of Education, the Commerce Department, the Office of Workforce Development, and the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative. The statewide goal to increase the overall postsecondary educational attainment of Oklahoma’s workforce from 40 percent to 70 percent means nearly 600,000 more workers will need a postsecondary degree, certificate or other high-quality credential in just eight years. To meet this goal, state agencies, educators, businesses and workforce partners will collaborate during the next several months to create a strategic plan to increase overall educational attainment. This plan will be due to the governor by Nov. 1, 2017.
* Data from the Lumina Foundation. For more information, go to http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2016/#oklahoma