OKMULGEE—A man whose vision has put more than 6 million people to work worldwide and nearly 375,000 in Oklahoma since 1983 addressed the 202nd graduating class of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology—many of whom will join the workforce immediately.
Founder and CEO of Express Employment Professionals Robert Funk served as commencement speaker for the ceremony on the OSUIT campus Dec. 11.
“I truly love seeing people of all ages launch their careers, begin businesses and embark on new endeavors,” he told the more than 240 graduates and their families and friends. “It is a hopeful and exciting time of life. It’s a time for vision and looking ahead. It’s a time to plan your work and work your plan. It’s a time to begin pursuit of the American Dream.”
Just as Express provides qualified individuals career opportunities based on their background and experience, OSUIT provides career readiness through an education enhanced by industry leaders and businesses who have the vision to invest and grow the workforce of tomorrow.
Funk shared his confidence to graduates that they would find success and a career after graduation, and that they had taken an important step in getting the education and training they need to enhance their skills and employability.
“Some of the best paying and most in-demand jobs in Oklahoma and throughout America are in your chosen fields of engineering, information technology, nursing, heavy equipment technicians, construction technology, automotive, graphic design, culinary arts and more,” he said. “I’m excited about the professions you’ve chosen and know that you have a tremendously bright future.”
Over the years, Funk has become more and more concerned about the lack of people pursuing a career in a skilled trade or industry where the need outweighs the number of trained workers available. He has become an outspoken advocate for career technical education in statewide education forums and a leading voice in the national skills gap discussion.
“We’re facing a skills gap in Oklahoma and America. On any given day at Express Employment Professionals, we have more than 40,000 jobs openings throughout North America,” he said. “We interview more than 2 million job seekers each year and place about 32 percent in jobs through Express. The rest are not qualified for the jobs we have available or they are not employable.”
OSUIT President Bill Path says his students don’t go to college to find themselves, they go to college to find a job. “We pride ourselves on giving our students not only a well-rounded education, but also the skills and training to ensure that they have a bright future after they walk across our graduation stage.”
Many of the skilled and technical professions these graduates are now trained to do are the exact positions companies are clamoring for, Funk said. And Oklahoma is primed to offer the opportunities for business success.
“Oklahoma is a state where the American dream still exists,” said Funk. “People with big dreams, can see them come to fruition because of the Oklahoma spirit. Our state welcomes entrepreneurs. And, the result is an environment where businesses and employees thrive.”