Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin was in Altus on Tuesday to speak about an initiative that was launched about a year ago. Gov. Fallin met with a large group at the Museum of the Western Prairie to talk about Oklahoma Works.
Oklahoma Works is a prosperity-boosting job creation project that seeks to increase educational attainment and match skilled workers with rewarding careers. By building local partnerships between state agencies, educational institutions, the business community and other stakeholders, Oklahoma Works aims to ensure students and adults find rewarding, lucrative careers and businesses have access to the highly educated and skilled workforce they need to succeed in today’s modern economy.
“We want to make sure we have the type of work force that will support our employers and build our economy and create better prosperity in Oklahoma,” said Fallin. “We also want to help our graduating students find the right kind of jobs. Jobs they need to work in our state.”
Fallin explained that this program takes our K-12 schools, technology centers and colleges, and connects them with our business community as well as state agencies and the people that need jobs. Oklahoma Works brings them all together to have a conversation to make sure we are meeting the needs of the local community and the business there, and the people in the communities. “It’s been exciting to visit the communities in our state and share what Oklahoma Works is doing,” said Fallin.
“This is a historic move because our educational institutions don’t always talk to our employers, and don’t always just sit down and meet and collaborate,” said Fallin. “But not only that, our state agencies like the Department of Human Services, Employment Security Commission, Department of Rehabilitative Services, our Veterans Commission, even our Corrections Department are getting involved,” added Fallin. “This is helping a wide variety of workers including those people coming out of our state correctional institutions, disabled and others.”
Fallin said that Oklahoma Works wants key people in each Oklahoma community to sit down and talk about the local challenges in their community and their local educational needs. “Especially in a community like Altus where not only do you have a strong private sector, but you have the military,” said Fallin. “You need to make sure your military can stay strong and be prepared as a state to be able to meet the needs especially when you have a KC46 opportunity that we have here in Altus – of course everybody worked very hard to make that happen so we want to make sure we are prepared and ready to support the military here.”
Fallin also remarked that Chamber of Commerces are vital to this project. “Brian Bush with the Altus Chamber is helping us along with local businesses to get the message out about Oklahoma Works here,” said Fallin. “Chambers are the heartbeat of a community, and you have a great one here.”
Fallin added that a lot of times employers tell her they can’t find the skill-sets that they need. “But yet we turn a lot of students and adults out of our technology centers and our colleges,” said Fallin. “We want to make that when they graduate that they have a work skill that is relevant to the local area and to the state so they can find a career and find a job and to be able to stay here. That is what Oklahoma Works is working to do.”
One of the ways that Oklahoma Works is working in each community is to hold events like the one in Altus on Tuesday, getting educational representatives, local business and industry representatives and various agencies together to spread the word. From here, regional leaders will continue to work to support the Oklahoma Works education, workforce and job creation initiative. The local southwest regional leader is Jeff Greenlee of Altus.
Gov. Fallin said, “Business champions like Jeff Greenlee will be responsible for helping to coordinate local work and developing specific performance goals. I appreciate leaders like Greenlee for stepping forward to help address the needs of our communities.”
See Sunday’s edition of the Altus Times for more about Oklahoma Works that includes data such as educational assessments for southwest Oklahoma and economic data as it relates to Altus.
Reach Michael Bush at email@example.com