Advantage Kansas: Future Focused, Future Ready

Mar 06, 2020

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When she was elected, Governor Kelly promised to be “the education Governor.” Since the start of her administration, she’s made good on that commitment by increasing funding for public schools and working to align education with business needs.

On January 24, 2019, Governor Kelly issued Executive Order 19-03 creating the Governor’s Council on Education. The Council’s overall charge is to increase prosperity and well-being for Kansans by providing quality education from early learning through post-secondary attainment.

Late last year, the Council presented a set of policy recommendations focused on greater collaboration between businesses, workforce training programs and educators, along with enhanced access to a high-quality education for Kansans of all ages.

At the roll-out event, Governor Kelly said, “Quality education is vital to the success and well-being of Kansans and essential to the economy in creating a highly trained workforce. The policy recommendations are an important step toward development of a more effective relationship between educational institutions and businesses.”

In addition to support for early-childhood education and increasing access to work-based learning experiences, the Governor’s Council on Education calls for the establishment of the Advantage Kansas Coalition. As Secretary of Commerce, I am honored by the Governor’s charge to chair this new “Future Focused, Future Ready” Coalition.

The goal of Advantage Kansas—a public-private Coalition—is to address our state’s workforce development and talent recruitment and retention challenges. We know we have an excellent education system in Kansas. What is needed now is a focused effort on keeping more of our educated talent right here in our state with good jobs and the opportunity to build a great life in the Sunflower State.

To do this, Advantage Kansas will coordinate our strategic efforts across state agencies and the private sector—working to align our education and workforce training systems with the talent needs of businesses across Kansas.

Advantage Kansas gathered for the first time last week during a meeting of the Governor’s Council on Education. At our meeting, we discussed how our Coalition can engage deeply with the business community in Kansas and help drive our state’s competitive edge through Talent Development, Talent Fulfillment (for business and industry) as well as Economic Prosperity for our state based on key economic indicators and quality of life metrics.

Workforce Development is one of the top priorities for our agency. One key takeaway I have from our Advantage Kansas conversations is the fact that workforce training begins at age zero. This makes investments in early-childhood education and strategic alignment with our education system, other state agencies and our regional workforce boards crucial to achieving economic growth and success for Kansas workers and employers alike.

As we’ve learned through the Framework for Growth strategic planning process, we must listen to businesses both small and large to ensure that our strategies are informed by data, reflect varying regional needs and focus on continuous improvement with clear indicators to measure success. And we must always measure everything we do.

With all of us focused clearly on the challenges and pulling in the same direction, we can make Kansas the Midwest’s premier Future Focused, Future Ready state—back on a path towards growth and reaching for the stars.

Ad Astra Per Aspera,

-DT