Knowing State level strategy and focus in incredibly important for educators as the majority of funding and reporting is driven by State level initiatives.  Over the past several years, we have witnessed greater levels of coordination among Governors in regard to their State wide strategies and as is expected, education is a primary focus moving forward in 2015.

In fact as you’ll see from the excerpts below, the driving focus of this year’s State of the States Address is the focus on connecting education and employment … or as we like to phrase it, connecting classrooms to careers.

State of the States Address

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, NGA Chair

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, NGA Vice Chair

January 6, 2015

Here’s the Top 5:

#1 College & Career Ready         States also are elevating the quality of their education by raising their expectations of students and improving the quality of the assessments used to measure students’ progress. With testing, it’s about quality, not quantity. When done well, students are better prepared for postsecondary education, avoid remedial classes and are on a path to obtaining a relevant certificate or degree to enter the workforce and the middle class. Ensuring that students leave high school ready for college or a career is a top priority for governors. Governor Haslam has led Tennessee with this approach, producing the largest gains in student achievement nationwide over the last four years.

#2 Apprenticeship          But as we all know, education does not stop in the classroom; it continues throughout our careers. The workforce is constantly evolving and learning, which is absolutely necessary in our modern economy. Where we can create opportunities, that means well-paying jobs.Well-paying jobs mean upward mobility.

·         Economic growth and job creation depend on a well-educated and trained workforce. There is growing recognition that the United States will benefit from more advanced on-the-job training opportunities to develop a skilled workforce for businesses and well-paying careers for workers. That is one reason states have focused on creating apprenticeships.

·         Governor Bullock’s Main Street Montana project elevates the role of apprenticeship as a workforce solution for the state’s key industries. Several states are offering tax credits to employers who hire apprentices; others are offering tuition benefits and reimbursements when workers take relevant courses. Some states provide support to statewide and regional agencies to help businesses develop apprenticeship models. This year Governor Branstad signed the Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act, which tripled apprenticeship funding to $3 million to support classroom-based instruction for apprentices in high-demand sectors.

#3 Aligning Education and Employer needs          Governor Herbert’s continued commitment to aligning Utah’s education and workforce training systems with the needs of employers in his state is paying dividends. Utah’s unemployment rate is one of the best in the nation. Additionally, his support for reforms that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math—the so-called STEM careers—is helping Utah realize its goal of 66 percent of all adults obtaining a degree or postsecondary certificate by 2020, while also preparing today’s students for a modern, technology-driven economy.

#4 Healthcare Workforce Advancements         As states drive toward higher quality and more efficient health care, governors also are developing an accessible, well-trained and flexible health care workforce to meet both the current need and that of a transformed health care delivery system. Many states report provider shortages across diverse practice areas, including adult primary care, oral health, behavioral health and a range of other specialties. Moreover, delivery system efforts are creating new workforce needs that are significantly changing the composition of the health workforce, along with how individual providers are expected to practice.

·         Governors are carrying out a number of efforts to support that new health workforce, including addressing scope-of-practice restrictions, creating incentives for providers to practice in rural and underserved areas, partnering with economic development and labor agencies to collect workforce data and funding education and training programs to recruit and retain new types of professionals.

#5 Integrated education-career pipeline         Other major education bills also are pending, including reauthorizations for Head Start and the Higher Education and Perkins Career and Technical Education Acts. This sets the stage for building an effective and integrated education pipeline aimed at preparing far more students for success in the workforce and in their communities. By leveraging various parts of these separate bills to reinforce one another, states will have the flexibility necessary to create a coherent system that is better for students.

·         As we all know, better education leads to a better workforce.