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From the desk of David Stewart: Oklahoma Works Together

12/16/2019

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A revolutionary plan to address the workforce shortage in Oklahoma started here at MidAmerica

As I mentioned in previous issues, I have been asked by the Governor’s office to spearhead the state’s efforts for our workforce to become a top 10 status.

Since January, I have been working with a committee of representatives throughout the state to compile strategies and recommendations designed to streamline connectivity between employer and employee.

Our state has 147,500 unfulfilled jobs. And currently, our labor participation rate is only 61 percent. That means 39 percent of Oklahomans are not actively looking for work. 

How do we begin to change those dismal statistics? We have a plan, and it’s called “Oklahoma Works Together.”


Problem #1: Low workforce participation rate
This can mostly be attributed to our high incarceration rate which makes people less employable when they are released from prison, and our low rate of positive health outcomes in many diseases which also leads to a lower workforce participation.

Solution #1: Work Together to provide solutions for disengaged and underserved individuals
We are beginning to establish statewide industry councils and create centralized institutions of learning. These centralized “Centers of Excellence” will be available to better train potential employees and focus on the population that is considered less employable by connecting them to education and training opportunities.


Problem #2: Available jobs are hard to find
Right now, there is no central location where prospective employees can view available jobs or supportive resources for education and training.

Solution #2: Work Together to improve access
We are working to improve the okjobmatch.com site that is currently run by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Our goal is to have all of the 147,500 jobs listed on this site and make it more user-friendly for job seekers.

 

Problem #3: Lack of workforce resources and infrastructure marketing
Oklahoma actually has a much stronger workforce system than what people from the outside perceive.  The problem is, we do not tell our story well enough.

Solution #3: Work Together to better market our state's workforce system
We are working towards a statewide branding of our workforce efforts. With a unified presence statewide, we have a better chance of reaching all Oklahomans so we can work together.  


As a committee, our next step is to make detailed recommendations on the strategies listed above by the end of the year.

Yes, this is a big job. But it is very achievable. MidAmerica has already had enormous success when addressing these issues on a smaller scale.

With our focused recommendations, Oklahoma Works Together will have a substantial impact on our state and will help companies stay in Oklahoma and continue to grow. Our work is to make recommendations that are sound and based on principles that make sense and will start moving the needle in terms of improving our state’s workforce system.

I look forward to sharing our committee’s continued efforts as this process moves forward.


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