Article by Kathryn McNutt for The Oklahoman
Gov. Mary Fallin [recently] announced a goal to increase the number of paid internships and apprenticeships in Oklahoma to 20,000 each year by 2020 to help address the state’s workforce shortage. The Earn & Learn Oklahoma initiative will benefit both workers and employers who cannot find the skilled people they need, Fallin said.
“Increasing the number of work-based learning opportunities in our state — for not only the youth but also our adults — is vital to ensuring that Oklahoma can continue to prosper and move forward,” Fallin said.
The governor highlighted existing successful programs, including the youth apprenticeship program at Dell and the program at Public Service Company of Oklahoma, where apprentices are paid $22 per hour when they begin and $38 per hour upon completion.
Fallin announced the new registered apprenticeship and internship goal during her STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and entrepreneurship summit at the Cox Convention Center. The Oklahoma Works strategic plan has been revised to include the new goal, she said.
Oklahoma has 60,000 open jobs, and nearly 10,000 are STEM-related, officials said.
The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows jobs in the STEM fields pay double the average salary of other jobs, said higher education Chancellor Glen Johnson, who opened the summit.
“It’s imperative that we as a state make STEM a top priority,” Johnson said. “Our governor has made STEM a priority focus for her administration and certainly we are seeing on a daily basis the benefits of that leadership.”
The number of STEM degrees and certificates awarded last year reached a record increase of more than 6,700, he said.
Fallin said the number of STEM degrees and certificates has nearly doubled since 2009-10.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve made a lot of great strides,” Fallin said.