Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive December 2014 Show 1450 Mary Fallin - Oklahoma’s STEM Future

Mary Fallin - Oklahoma’s STEM Future

Gov. Mary Fallin has big plans for the state, and they involve STEM.
Mary Fallin - Oklahoma’s STEM Future

Mary Fallin - Oklahoma’s STEM Future

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Show 1450: Mary Fallin - Oklahoma’s STEM Future
Air Date: December 14, 2014



Andy Barth: Well, as former chair of the National Governor’s Association, Mary Fallin made it her mission to increase America’s workforce and put a lot of focus on STEM jobs. Her platform – America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. And after her term as national chair, Fallin continued her platform here in Oklahoma. Now, I sat down with Gov. Fallin to discuss STEM and the bright future it holds for our state.

Andy: Governor, why is STEM so important to Oklahoma?

Mary Fallin: STEM is very important to Oklahoma – science, technology, engineering and math – because if you look at the jobs, and especially the ones that create innovation and research, new technology, they require STEM subjects. And it’s important that we work with our educators, our higher education institutions, our career and technology schools, our employers to develop a skilled workforce, a pipeline basically, of workers that have the right type of educational skill sets besides technology, engineering and math to be able to meet the needs of our core industries in Oklahoma. You look at the energy sector, you know, they require a lot of engineers, a lot of scientists, a lot of computer technicians. You look at some of the technology that’s come out Oklahoma that’s been very helpful in being able to bring up a lot of the oil lately -- it’s because of Oklahoma technology and research. You look at agriculture and the type of drought resistant seeds we’ve been able to develop at the Noble Foundation -- those require STEM subjects. You look at our biosciences, our medical research being done in Oklahoma, our aerospace industry, our unmanned aerial systems – research is being done. I mean, all those things require STEM subjects in our education system.

Andy: Now, as chair of the National Governor’s Association, your platform was all about a competent workforce, but then you also took a step further and charged Oklahoma with the same type of challenge.

Fallin: I had the opportunity last year to serve as a national chair of the Governor’s Association, and my national initiative was Education: Training for Tomorrow’s Job, called America Works. And so this year we have launched Oklahoma Works, which basically is just working with our K-12 to make sure that we have more degree completion, to make sure that we have less remediation in our colleges and our universities, to make sure that more people graduate with certificates or degrees themselves and to focus on certainly those STEM subjects that we need to set robust standards. Oklahoma standards, developed by Oklahomans where their parents and our educators and our teachers and to work with our employers to make sure that we understand the type of skill sets needed. And frankly, different regions of the state vary in the skills that are needed. You know, you have Oklahoma City and Tulsa have a lot of aerospace, a lot of energy, a lot of manufacturing, a lot of biosciences, medical, health care sciences. But then you go out into western Oklahoma, you have a lot of agriculture, you have a lot of the energy sector -- certainly even the wind sector is very strong. You get down in southeastern Oklahoma, you have a lot of forestry type services, you have International Paper, which has added new jobs down far southeastern Oklahoma, and so they require different skill sets, different workforce and different educational attainment degrees there. And a lot of things that I shared with this group today is how important it is that we look ahead at the type of educational attainment levels that we have in our state. Back 50 years ago, about 79 percent of our workforce just needed a high school degree to be able to enter the workforce and get a good living wage. But today, because of the ever-changing technology, innovation and operating frankly in a competitive global economy, about 35 percent of our jobs in Oklahoma require a high school degree. In other words, if you don’t have more than a high school degree – an associate’s degree, a career and technology certificate in some type of professions or a four-year degree or beyond, you’re not gonna have the opportunities that you want to have for a good paying job in the state. And so our challenge is to close that skills gap and to make sure that we’re developing a strong educated pipeline for today’s jobs.

Andy: All right. Well, Madame Governor, thank you so much.

Fallin: Thank you.