National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, along with co-host Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, brought together state teams to discuss her year-long effort America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. The initiative focuses on improving state education and workforce training systems and aligning those systems with the needs of individual state economies.
“Developing a highly educated workforce and closing the skills gaps in our states is essential to ensuring our children’s futures and strengthening our economies,” Gov. Fallin said. “By bringing these state teams together to share best practices, we are creating a national dialogue about how we can best prepare America’s students to get good jobs and stay competitive in a global economy.”
“There is nothing more critical to securing the economic future of all Americans than preparing our workforce for tomorrow’s jobs,” said Gov. Malloy. “To do this, Connecticut has made unprecedented investments in education – from pre-k through college. We have aggressively pursued 21st Century jobs, and the investments we are making in education will ensure that we have the workforce to fill those positions in the coming years. I’m glad to join Gov. Fallin in this worthwhile initiative.”
Fifty years ago, more than 75 percent of all jobs required only a high school diploma or less and most paid a good wage, Fallin noted. Today that number has dropped to less than 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.
“A high school diploma just isn’t enough for most people to find a good job and enter the middle class,” continued Gov. Fallin. “The ‘new minimum’ for success is either a two-year or four-year college degree or a career technology work certificate. My goal is to use this initiative to develop policy tools that can assist lawmakers as they work to increase educational attainment in their states, thereby helping American workers find good-paying jobs.”
America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs will specifically focus on four 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 that connects education results with the needs of our economies;
- Integrated and improved data systems;
- High-quality public-private partnerships; and
- Alignment of federal and state funding, incentives and other resources to support cross-system integration.
Gov. Fallin will host the second regional summit in Santa Fe next month with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. The final summit will take place next spring in Oklahoma City. The summits are designed to give state teams an opportunity to learn from one another and enact change in their states.