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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2018, part 5: IL, OK, OR, PA, TN looking to enhance workforce, build economies

February 08, 2018

Governors are continuing their annual address to legislators and constituents and workforce development continues to take center stage, with the governor of Oregon rolling out a new five-step plan she hopes will invigorate the economy and close the skills gap while Oklahoma acknowledged difficult times and Tennessee says it may achieve an education goal two years ahead of schedule.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner took pride in saying that the state produces 10 percent of the nation’s computer scientists and called on citizens of the state to “ignite our economy.”

“There is no question we need the economic spark. News of population declines and slow business growth have effects that go far beyond troublesome headlines. They cost us jobs, and rob us of tax revenues.”

“We helped launch the Illinois Innovation Network and the Discovery Partners Institute, a U of I-led effort to link the power of great research with entrepreneurship and new business formation.”

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her eighth and final state of the state at the start of the lawmakers regular session, while they are still serving in a special session, acknowledging a “very difficult past year….”

She also asked for a bipartisan support for a Step Up Oklahoma plan that she said is designed to “break the gridlock that’s existed in this building.”

“Now, without passage of this plan, there are important policy initiatives that can't be advanced and initiatives that each of you care about, such as education, criminal justice reform, health, human services, transportation infrastructure, and restructuring inefficient government entities. We can't do that unless we stabilize and fix our budget.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown introduced the Future Ready Oregon agenda to help close the skills gap and prepare more state residents to fill jobs:

“In Oregon, there are five types of occupations driving the growth of our economy. And they all require highly technical skills:
●      advanced manufacturing
●      bioscience
●      energy, solar, and wind
●      healthcare, and
●      information technology.

Now when I first saw that list, I assumed you had to have a college degree to get one of these jobs. That’s a myth. We should be preparing our high school graduates for these jobs. For some, even right out of high school.”

“Looking ahead, state economists are projecting 27,000 high-wage, high-demand job openings each year through 2024. It is clear. There is a gap between the skills Oregon’s workers have and the skills that our growing businesses need. This is unacceptable. And it’s also an incredible opportunity.”

“And to realize this vision, I am launching Future Ready Oregon. … And the goal is to close the skills gap between the workforce we have and the workforce we need to fuel Oregon’s economy. To accomplish this goal, we need to make sure every student graduates with a plan for their future and the tools that they need to compete in a global economy.”

“And it’s why I will ensure every single school district offers hands-on learning opportunities for every single student. And in my proposed budget for the next biennium, that’s why I will dedicate 300 million dollars to hands-on learning programs in our schools.”

“We must build new pathways from the first job someone takes to their last. Pathways that ensure hardworking Oregonians can develop cutting-edge skills that give our state an economic advantage. Pathways that include skill training and registered apprenticeships to make Oregonians the first choice for high-wage, high-demand jobs.”

 “…I have realigned Business Oregon’s priorities to focus on work that impacts communities of color and Rural Oregon, including Oregon’s nine tribes. As an example, we are now investing in broadband and prioritizing infrastructure investments to increase competitiveness of Oregon’s rural industries. We are also providing incentives to businesses to expand apprenticeships and job training opportunities for limited-English speakers and underserved communities.”

“We are working with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and Business Oregon to improve coordination between high-growth industries and our job training programs. Our community colleges are a key component of this work as well. As we work together with industries across the state, we can take the second step and fuel growth with what I am calling ‘Next-Gen Apprenticeships.’ These are training programs in technical fields like IT, healthcare, advanced wood manufacturing, and high-tech manufacturing.”

“I have proposed a bill this session that directs Business Oregon to develop a loan program to help those who are skilled in the construction industry start their own businesses. They are only eligible for these loans if they work on affordable housing in our rural communities. And that means these businesses will open where jobs are needed the most: rural Oregon.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf celebrated the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl as he talked about rebuilding prosperity.

“Our high school graduation rate is more than 86 percent, making us a national leader. We’re second in the nation in STEM education, preparing our children for the jobs of tomorrow. And we’ve increased the number of career and technical education students earning industry-recognized certificates by nearly 33 percent, preparing them for the jobs our employers are trying to fill right now.”

“And speaking of our workforce, in this year’s budget, I’m proposing another major step forward: a significant investment in career and technical education to help make Pennsylvania a better place to learn, a better place to work – and a better place to do business. Developing a workforce that can compete and win in the 21st-century economy is the single best way to help Pennsylvania businesses grow – and attract new businesses to our Commonwealth.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam reminisced on his two terms in office as he delivered his final state of the state address.

Reflecting on the success of the free college tuition programs the state has instituted, Haslam said that the “goal of 55 percent of Tennesseans having a certificate or degree by 2025 WILL happen. In fact, if we sustain our current momentum, we are on pace to meet the Drive to 55 goal two years early.”

“[T]onight, I am announcing the Complete to Compete initiative, which, through appropriate levers and resources to students, will ensure that they start strong, receive support to stay on track, and make it to graduation day.”

Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennesseetech talkin govs