Governors announce yearlong initiative

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The chair of the National Governors Association announced her initiative that will spotlight improving education and workforce training systems, and aligning those systems with the needs of individual state economies, according to the release.

The initiative, called America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs, was announced by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who officially became the chair of the NGA Sunday during the closing session of the summer meeting, according to the release.

The initiative will have two main focuses, according to the release.

The first focus is engaging education, business and government leaders in a dialogue about what governors can do to more closely align K-12, universities, community and technical colleges and workforce training providers with future labor demands, according to the release.

The second focus is supporting governors and their staff in using data and information to identify states’ future labor demands, prioritize changes in state education and workforce training systems to meet those demands and take action to achieve desired results, according to the release.

“Improving our workforce and ensuring it remains intentionally competitive is an issue that calls for national attention and demands gubernatorial leadership,” Fallin said in the release. “Our future economic security will require significant improvements to our education system and workforce training programs. It also will require significant relationships among our high schools, colleges, and workforce training providers and employers.”

According to the release, nearly 50 years ago more than 75 percent of jobs required only a high school diploma or less, and most paid a good wage. Today that number has dropped to roughly 40 percent to jobs available to high school graduates and dropouts.

Nationally, just more than three-quarters of public high school students make it to graduation, according to the release.

“While a high school diploma was usually sufficient for our parents’ generation to have access to a good life, today a post-secondary degree or relevant workforce certificate is the new minimum,” Fallin said. “Failing to provide all of our students with opportunities to successfully navigate post-secondary education will cap for too many students’ potential and limit their access to the middle class.”

The NGA also announced new leadership of its Executive Committee for the 2013-2014 year, according to a release. Gov. Scott Walker is one of the executive committee members along with Minn. Gov. Make Dayton and five other governors.