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Oklahoma Needs a New Workforce Delivery System to Build a Strong Economy

Most people can easily understand that, for the economy to function, businesses need staff and people need jobs. What’s not easily understood is how much effort and coordination go on behind the scenes to connect people to work … and therein lies opportunity.

There’s no how-to guide for finding, hiring and retaining great staff. Most businesses don’t know about the services available to them, while others have tried to navigate the state’s employment system and been frustrated by siloed operations, inefficiencies and lacking accountability. As a result, industry often goes elsewhere or nowhere for help because they don’t have the time or resources to continue engaging fruitlessly.

But what if it were easier to find the tools available and learn to use them? What if these tools, built to assist businesses, were self-service? Could we identify on our own what tax incentives are available for hiring from certain populations (disabled, military, justice-involved)? Could we get local support for hard-to-fill positions, and participate in community events targeting people actively looking for work?

The short answer is yes, but only if the entities involved function together as a delivery system. The success of such a system is heavily dependent on the willingness of those entities to adopt common direction and oversight, transparent performance management, and widespread accountability. These components are critical to ensuring that siloes don’t form and services are well-coordinated to achieve collective goals.

If such a system did exist, it would “arrange” the functions of all partners together in sequence, like a supply chain or assembly line. The system would leverage the strengths of all partners to produce qualified people for employers in need and a great market for job seekers in pursuit.

In this structure, a citizen would move themself through a series of educational offerings and trainings to qualify for good jobs that the economy needs. Meanwhile, the system would work with employers to understand their needs and facilitate direct candidate sourcing.

Over the past year, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), CareerTech, and Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) have been working together to build this system. We quickly expanded our group to include a broad variety of workforce development partners that would need to work closer together for this system to work, and there are still many others to invite to the table.

Once we have a fairly comprehensive inventory of what’s available, we can direct use of the tools to produce the outcomes needed to operate Oklahoma’s future economy.

That economy today is comprised of over 100,000 businesses across industry and geography. To meet their diverse and complex needs, the workforce pipeline must produce quality people and support economic growth. Educational institutions must be aligned with industry to create a plethora of career tracks that are accessible by all and easy to use.

If not, people won’t be aware of or ready for jobs they may be best suited for. Our students deserve this, our workers crave it, and our current and future employers will demand it. Our state’s motto is “Labor Omnia Vincit,” which is Latin for “Work Conquers All.” A strong work ethic is already part of our state’s DNA, and a new delivery system might be just what’s needed to build the strongest economy the state has ever seen.

Source: The Oklahoman