Robert Funk, Founder and CEO of Express Employment Professionals, to Speak at Graduation Ceremony

Robert Funk, Founder and CEO of Express Employment Professionals, to Speak at Graduation Ceremony

Sara Plummer
Robert Funk, Founder and CEO of Express Employment Professionals, to Speak at Graduation Ceremony

As founder and CEO of Express Employment Professionals, Robert Funk sees finding others jobs as more than a career— it’s a calling.

“I graduated with a degree in theology so I thought I was going to go into the ministry,” Funk said. “Helping people find jobs is really a ministry in itself.”

Funk, who founded Express more than 30 years ago, will serve as the keynote speaker at OSU Institute of Technology’s graduation ceremony Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. in Covelle Hall.

More than 250 students will graduate that Friday with the vast majority set to show up for work ready to begin their careers the following Monday morning.

“Meeting the workforce demands of the state, region and country has always been the mission of the university since it opened nearly 70 years ago,” said OSUIT President Bill R. Path. “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.”

It’s a mission shared by Funk and his company.

Fall 2015 Graduation

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology will be holding the commencement ceremony on Friday, December 11, 2015.

See Graduation Details

My passion is to help people find jobs. You help them find jobs you help them through life, help them with upward mobility and help them gain self-confidence, he said.

Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S., Canada and South Africa, and the company employs 400,000 people across nearly 700 franchise locations worldwide.

Through his work at Express, Funk said he’s also had the opportunity to help develop companies because the success of a company is dependent on the breadth and depth of good workers it employs.

“I try to help people find jobs and I help companies find good employees. It’s a win-win on both sides,” he said.

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.

“Young people get a college education in a general field and then they can’t find a job when they graduate,” he said. “Technical schools help young people find a job where there is a need for employees.”

In order for the U.S. to remain competitive globally, Funk said the country needs to step up and invest in education for technical and skilled industries like those offered at OSUIT.

“We need to help technical schools and encourage students to go into these fields; that’s where the need is.”

Funk said he was extremely pleased when he was asked to speak to the 202nd graduating class of OSUIT because the university is offering its students a future in fields where there are jobs available.

I don’t really do these types of speeches anymore, but I said yes because this was one I thought was important, he said. Young people need hope and encouragement and to know that the American dream is alive and well.