Media Room


December 8, 2017

Thanks for your past work: 

You all, collectively, responded to my letter last year asking for advice on what we can do to improve our workforce system and better serve Oregonians.  Many of the organizations you represent responded individually as well.  

I received a variety of ideas, and my staff continue to look to those responses as we plan out the work ahead of us.

You serve a unique role:
With so many players in the  arena of economic development, education, and training, it’s easy for work to overlap.  But you all have an important and specific role to play.

You are the place where the voices of Oregon businesses and Oregon workers can come together to look at our state’s future. This is a critical part of what I look to you for. 

We can’t meaningfully grow our economy unless we work to raise Oregon’s median wage rate and help low and middle income earners find career paths to family wage jobs, and we need both employer and worker voices to do that.

Your new role:
Two new state laws now guide your work

Your focus is now on (1) adult workers improving their skills, (2) assessing the future of high-skill needs, and (3) continuing to guide the critical technical work of the federal workforce system.

It is my expectation that the Boards and Agencies who work in workforce, economic development, and education work together, and that you turn to them for their areas of expertise and that they turn to your Board as the strategic place to have conversations among employers, workers or aspiring workers, and service providers, about what our system needs.

My Workforce Agenda:

Oregon’s economy is growing, and we continue to see record job growth. However, our economic growth isn’t spreading evenly across the state.

We need to focus existing workforce development activities on opportunity career paths to grow our statewide economy and help workers get ahead. 

We also need to develop a pipeline of qualified workers to fuel our growing economy and the businesses that are driving it.

That’s why I’m focusing on the following:

     Expand Career Technical Education programs throughout Oregon:
     We need Oregon students to graduate with a plan for their future. 

     Collaborate with private partners to expand access to hands-on learning opportunities. 

Increasing apprenticeship opportunities:

     Registered apprenticeships create pathways to better jobs, help workers get a competitive edge.

     Apprenticeship help ensure employers have a well trained workforce that not only has the knowledge of today’s technologies, but is ready to learn about tomorrow’s. 

Investment in key High-wage and High-demand career tracks:

     There are a number of professions where a little investment can turn around whole economies, including construction and healthcare. 

     Construction and healthcare careers generally require training beyond high school but don’t require a four year degree. 

     These are jobs that are available throughout the state, but are huge opportunities for rural economies, particularly. 

Targeted investments in regional opportunity areas:

     Our communities need solutions that are tailored for the people and businesses that are based there. 

I’d like to hear your ideas on how we can focus the work of the HECC, OED, and Business Oregon to spur growth and investment in communities where we need to better coordinate economic development and our workforce training programs.

Additionally, I’m asking my Agencies, many of whom are here today, to continue to coordinate their efforts to streamline services and stretch every dollar.

Thank you.