Higher ed chancellor: Investments have long-term benefit for Oklahoma
The ability of Oklahoma's economy to grow in the face of global economic turmoil continues to draw positive national attention. In August, Gov. Mary Fallin summarized our economy this way: “With the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the nation and third-best rate of job growth, the Oklahoma economy remains strong and resilient.”
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The Oklahoma State System of Higher Education is determined to continue to help drive our economy in that positive direction by linking our academic programs directly with the needs of business, particularly in health care and allied health, engineering, aerospace, wind turbine technology and other areas.
We do this with a renewed certainty in the value that a college degree brings to graduates and our state. A study released in August by the Lumina Foundation and Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that the recession affected less-educated workers much more severely than those with at least some college education. Since the economic recovery began in January 2010, “All of the post-recession recovery in the job market has gone to workers with education beyond high school, with greater job gains made by those with bachelor's degrees or better,” according to the study.
As we move forward, Oklahoma must be ready to accommodate the expected growth in the knowledge-based economic sector. This point was detailed by Richard Petrick, director of the Ohio-based Business Alliance for Higher Education and the Economy, at the recent Greater Oklahoma City Chamber State of the Schools luncheon.
Petrick recognized that Oklahoma, with the leadership of Gov. Fallin, is engaged in the most comprehensive and ambitious higher education initiative ever undertaken by the state. The goal of the Complete College America initiative is to increase the number of degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma by 1,700 per year for 12 years, resulting in a 67 percent increase by 2023.
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