OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma state leaders say they are taking the initial steps in addressing the needs of what they say is a workforce problem.

They say transforming the workforce is key and Governor Kevin Stitt along with State Secretary of Commerce Chad Mariska, State Chamber President and CEO Chad Warmington, and legislators came together to create a task force designed to build the economy.

Photo courtesy KFOR, State Chamber President and CEO Chad Warmington

“Oklahoma’s workforce must keep pace with the growing number of businesses expanding in and relocating to the state,” said Governor Stitt. “This Workforce Transformation Task Force is a good first step to help us maximize our full potential and provide a workforce that can meet the needs of employers.”

According to Mariska, about 40,000 jobs are needed for businesses to be able to transform outcomes with significant results.

During a news conference on Wednesday, he said Oklahoma must improve how the employers deliver and process out systems, which should align with private sector needs highlighting responses times in evaluations, determining operating procedures and the development of quality and quantity now and in the future. Ultimately the taskforce seeks to maximize federal funding and deliver a optimized workforce.

Photo courtesy KFOR, Transforming Workforce at Oklahoma History Center

“Workforce is the number one challenge facing businesses in our state. We need to get more Oklahomans career-ready to address our immediate needs, while also building a pipeline to educate and train the future workforce,” said State Chamber President and CEO Chad Warmington. “This executive order is the first step in creating clear pathways to help Oklahomans get ready for the workforce. The reorganization will also better align workforce systems and provide accountability for their responsibilities. Other states have successfully implemented similar plans that continue to pay dividends. This is the right move for Oklahomans, as well as the future of our state’s economy.”

Oklahoma legislators say they too will work to tackle the problem.

Senator Adam Pugh filed SB 621 which establishes a workforce commission which would streamline to process directly to the governor for discretion on where to place grants.

In the executive order the Task Force shall:

  • Evaluate the operations of the state’s current workforce delivery system, as well as those of other states, and develop recommendations to enhance coordination, efficiency, and effectiveness of workforce development efforts within and among stakeholder state agencies and local entities;
  • Determine the best structure, operating procedures, and chain of command of the new workforce delivery system to achieve the goals directed by this Order;
  • Guide the transition of all existing workforce programs, including but not limited to those funded by or operating pursuant to WIOA;
  • Recommend a reporting structure that ensures accountability for public funds and program results;
  • Design a workforce delivery system structure adequate to developing the quantity and quality of the labor force required to meet the needs of employers currently and in the future; and
  • Identify ways to maximize federal and other funding, including but not limited to funds available under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. 

The Task Force will consist of these positions:

  • The Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce
  • The President and CEO of the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce
  • Three private sector members appointed by the Governor
  • The President Pro Tempore of the Senate or designee
  • The Speaker of House of Representatives or designee
  • The Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation or designee