The state is showing signs of progress as a result of the initiative, Hackler said, but commerce officials hope to see further improvement.
“We think this bill can help us accelerate our improvement,” he said.
Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, said he thinks the bill will go a long way to address the state's deficit in workers who are prepared for the economy of the future.
Ford, the bill's author, cited a Commerce Department analysis that shows only 18 percent of the new jobs created in Oklahoma between 2010 and 2020 will require no postsecondary education, while nearly 50 percent will require some form of postsecondary education below a bachelor's degree, including associate degrees and industry certifications.
“That's kind of the opposite of what we're putting out in our schools today,” Ford said.
Most of the certification tracks the scholarship would affect are yearlong programs, and generally cost about $3,500 to complete. Under the scholarship program, the institution would receive half of the student's scholarship money during the first semester, then another 40 percent during the second semester.
The institution would receive the final 10 percent when the student graduates and receives a certificate.
“Everybody has a little skin in the game,” Ford said. “To me, it is an immediate win.”