A 2013 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce noted the percentage of jobs by the year 2020 that would require postsecondary education or training. For Utah, the researchers estimated that 66 percent of future jobs would require education or training beyond high school. As Governor of Utah and Chair of the National Governors Association, part of my mission is to ensure that young people in my state and across the country are prepared for the jobs of the future. But to make that happen, we must take action today.
I recently unveiled my NGA Chair’s Initiative “States: Finding Solutions, Improving Lives”, and addressed this important initiative before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. States are finding solutions to critical issues, and I highlighted several of them during my remarks. One of the innovative solutions I detailed was IBM’s P-TECH school in Brooklyn, New York. Leading programs like P-TECH will help us build a better future for generations to come.
P-TECH is a significant representation of business and education coming together for the mutual benefit of the student. The student becomes more qualified for high-skilled occupations, while businesses are able to fill important STEM oriented jobs. This school has been so successful that other states and school districts are now adopting the same model.
During my recent personal tour of P-TECH, I was impressed to see the level of collaboration between industry and education at this important school. As we walked from class to class and spoke with students who were gaining meaningful employment skills, I was inspired by their commitment to making the most of their P-TECH opportunity. Many of these students will be the first in their families to obtain post-high school degrees and find higher paying jobs. P-TECH in Brooklyn is helping a community to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.
Workforce alignment remains a critical issue for our country, and states are working to help address skills gap related problems. Today, there are tens of thousands of jobs that go unfilled because businesses can’t find the needed workforce. This shortage of skilled workforce is affecting our most critical industries including information technology, aerospace and defense, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, energy and others. In addition to offering high wages, these industries also represent the future of our economy and of America’s global competitiveness.
In Utah, we’re addressing the challenging disconnect between industry needs and workforce skills head-on. We recently launched the Utah Aerospace Pathways program. Similarly to P-TECH, this innovative initiative will enable students to get meaningful workplace training in high school, while participating in paid internships. Program graduates will be ready to enter the 21st century workforce.
Though driven primarily by business, the Utah Aerospace Pathways program received critical development input from our education partners. P-TECH represents a similar collaborative model with the New York City Schools, The City University of New York and IBM as contributing partners. What we’re learning as we find solutions to improve lives in Utah and around the country is that public-private partnerships are essential to overcoming the major challenges that affect all of us.
The Honorable Gary Herbert is Governor of Utah and Chair of the National Governors Association.
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