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Otter decries talent gap in state work force

With an unemployment rate hovering at 3.7 percent, Idaho has about 28,500 people out of work and looking for a job.

But Idaho employers have left about 22,000 jobs vacant, Gov. Butch Otter said at his annual address to the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce June 1, “because we did not have the talent for them.”

Otter touted education as the key to developing a work force that can meet the needs of employers, Idaho EdNews reported. Speaking to an audience of business and political leaders, Otter praised several education initiatives passed by the 2016 Legislature: a $9.1 million elementary school literacy initiative; funding a state Action Center focused on the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math; and renaming Idaho’s professional-technical education program to emphasize a career-technical focus.

Otter stuck with other familiar themes on education. He said the 2013 recommendations from his education task force provide Idaho with an unprecedented five-year plan for K-12. And he said Idaho needs to press on to produce more college-educated adults — restating the state’s goal to get 60 percent of its 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a college degree or certificate by 2020.

“That’s where those 22,000 jobs can be filled,” Otter said.

The state’s “60 percent goal,” while ambitious, may well be unattainable by the 2020 timeline. Idaho’s completion rate is 40 percent, down from 42 percent in 2014, and remains one of the lowest in the nation.

For the balance of his 33-minute speech, Otter spoke largely on business topics — and provided no real hints about his priorities for the 2017 legislative session.


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One comment

  1. Mr. Otter, please. The current, absolute abhorrent educational system in Idaho is directly related to education becoming politicized. It started with Mr. Luna who had no business being Superintendent. He did not, does not nor will ever have the qualifications necessary. And the problem continues. The voters elected an individual who, in my lifetime, is the most intellectually dishonest public official I’ve ever seen. Your friend, Mr. Gwartney, absolutely crushed any hope of immediate improvement and cost Idaho tens of millions of dollars which cost continues even today. How in the Good Lord’s name he has not yet been indicted defies all logic. So please, please do not stand before us, wringing your hands, and say how bad things are. The simple fact is that you are Governor and have been Governor ever since the demise started. Responsibility starts at the top. So step up and take responsibility for what has occurred. And then try to at least set us on a path to recovery by publicly stating that politics has no place in electing our Superintendent of Education; that the most qualified individual should be elected, even if that person is a Democrat. Larry Sirhall