As the incoming chair of the National Governor’s Association (NGA), Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced the major focus of her tenure will be education and workforce training. Gov. Fallin’s initiative, formally titled America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs, will highlight various efforts in state governments to improve skilled workforce training efforts and align those efforts with the needs of local industry demand. As the initiative is described in the introductory press materials, some in-demand industries seem to have been left out.
“We know it will be the workers with education and training in fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and other skilled trades who will be best prepared to capture the high-wage jobs of the next decade, including those in health care, management, scientific and technical consulting, business services and advanced manufacturing.”
Despite the nation’s growing shortage of skilled construction craft professionals, construction training does not appear to be included in the Governor’s initiative. Simple research into data provided by the federal government’s CareerOneStop.org shows that 7 out of the top 10 fastest growing occupations that require a high school degree for entry are in the construction industry. The fastest growing occupation that requires some post-secondary training is also in the construction field. Without a significant focus on creating robust construction training programs, there will be a shortfall of skilled craftspeople to fill this demand.
Here at WF_C, we fully support government efforts to improve skilled workforce training, especially those that promote collaboration between government, industry and education providers. In fact, one of the most compelling points of emphasis in many of the policy conversations about skilled workforce training is the need for input from industry stakeholders. Hopefully Gov. Fallin will include construction in that conversation if she is serious about building a 21st century workforce.