Thursday, June 15, 2017
WASHINGTON – Governor Mary Fallin today at the White House said President Trump’s directive, which he called a “historic announcement to train Americans for the jobs of the future” aligns closely with her Oklahoma Works initiative.
“Aligning our education and workforce training programs to provide relevant work skills will be the best way to keep job growth strong,” said Fallin, who was one of seven governors at the White House for today’s signing of the executive order. “I appreciate President Trump’s leadership and commitment to education and workforce issues, and his executive order to make policy changes that encourage more apprenticeship programs. Oklahoma has long been a leader on this issue through the development of my statewide strategic plan named Oklahoma Works, which helps to develop a robust workforce and career pathways for our students. It was gratifying the president and his Cabinet recognized Oklahoma as a leading state in workforce initiatives.”
In 2015, Fallin launched Oklahoma Works, which is intended to ensure students are being educated for the high-quality, high-paying jobs the state wants to retain and attract. It was modeled after her America Works initiative she created in 2013 when she was chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA).
Trump said his executive order will “expand apprenticeships and vocational training to help all Americans find a rewarding career, earn a great living, and support themselves and their families and love going to work in the morning.
“We will be removing federal restrictions that have prevented many different industries from creating apprenticeship programs,” he said, saying the directive is “empowering” companies, industry groups and unions to “go out and create new apprenticeships for millions of our citizens” that would allow them to “earn while you learn.”
A group of almost two dozen administration officials, governors, lawmakers, dignitaries and apprentices stood behind the president as he spoke. The president met with Fallin and others behind closed doors before the executive order signing. Other governors attending were Matt Bevin, of Kentucky; Dennis Daugaard, of South Dakota; Eric Greitens, of Missouri; John Hickenlooper, of Colorado; Henry McMaster, of South Carolina; and Scott Walker, of Wisconsin.
In March, Fallin was one of three governors who went on an NGA-sponsored trip to Germany and Switzerland to study apprenticeships. The goal of the trip was to learn how those countries effectively leverage apprenticeships as a key workforce and economic development strategy, and to provide governors with ideas as they look to build globally competitive talent development systems in their states.
In October, Fallin presided over an Oklahoma Works summit, in which she outlined a plan to align education and work skills with businesses and job openings. More CareerTech certificates and college degrees are needed to meet the demands of the workplace that will require higher education levels than nearly half of Oklahomans currently have, she told those attending the summit. She also set a goal in December, named Launch Oklahoma, to increase post-secondary education and training attainment for Oklahomans.
“The growth of technology is causing the workplace to change rapidly,” Fallin said. “About 46 percent of Oklahoma’s workforce has a high school degree or less, but by the year 2025 only 23 percent of new jobs will be available to people with those qualifications. It is critical that we help our citizens gain the skills needed to meet the new reality.”
In 2025, 77 percent of all new jobs will be available only to those who have education beyond high school. Currently, only 54 percent of Oklahomans currently have that level of education.
Surveys conducted as part of the Oklahoma Works initiative gathered data on employability skills needed now and in the future. They also collected information on opportunities for students to explore career options and participate in post-secondary opportunities in high school.