Rogers County Among Nine State Designated Centers for Workforce Excellence

Sean Kouplen, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce & Workforce Development, alongside members of the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and industry leaders, announced today the certification of nine Centers for Workforce Excellence (CWE) under the Oklahoma Works Together program. Rogers County, led by consortium partners including Claremore Industrial & Economic Development Authority, Tulsa Ports, and Rogers County Development received this distinction for its efforts within the manufacturing sector.

“Governor Stitt has worked to implement his ‘Oklahoma Turnaround’ initiatives in a variety of areas. Workforce development, recruitment and retention play an essential role in positioning Oklahoma as a Top 10 state for business, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kouplen said. “Oklahoma Works Together establishes a local, industry-based workforce model that we can use to help existing businesses find workers and attract new industry to Oklahoma.”

Working on a local level, Oklahoma Works Together is supported by state agencies and focused on deploying resources, leveraging existing programs, and aligning curriculum with local and regional employment demand. A CWE provides a point of contact within each identified region that serves existing and prospective employers’ workforce needs by coordinating resources and services. The program, established in late 2019, brought together groups from across the state to work hand-in-hand with business leaders, public education, higher education, economic developers, state agencies and CareerTech to devise a replicable workforce model that can be deployed statewide.

Throughout the year, an Oklahoma Workforce Committee comprised of stakeholders from throughout the state worked to identify existing state resources and developed a strategic framework that aligns workforce with the needs of business and industry.

Over the past four years, Rogers County’s consortium partners have worked diligently to ensure our area manufacturers have a pipeline to support their talent needs, said Meggie Froman-Knight, Associate Director for the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority. “We are honored to be named as a Center of Workforce Excellence. Our team is confident this prestigious distinction will play a vital role in our efforts to develop a robust talent pool and provide career pathways for our county’s prospective workforce, including our underemployed and underserved populations. 

“As a former educator, I understand the crucial role our public schools play in preparing and educating students for their future careers,” said Sheila Shook, Education and Workforce with Tulsa Ports. “The Rogers County Center of Workforce Excellence will provide a foundation for students to develop and maintain career pathways, as well as provide relevance and rigor to STEM education, training, and workforce development that can carry over to future career opportunities. We look forward to the continued progress and growth in Rogers County.”

A CWE leverages Oklahoma’s extensive secondary and post-secondary education assets with a network of employment-related agencies with proven results to benefit employers in specific industries through the following objectives:

·         Each CWE is data driven and designed to meet the specific need of the local economy and the predominate industry sector(s).

·         The CWEs are led and supported by employer groups to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

·         Each CWE engages all stakeholders in the process and leverages the expertise and resources to increase efficiency.

·         The CWEs align educational pathways from K-12, CareerTech and Higher Education providing articulation opportunities.

“A Center for Workforce Excellence is considered a one-stop-shop, but it definitely is not a one-size-fits-all for employers. These specialized teams customize a workforce training and recruitment plan based on the labor needs of an employer and its geographical setting,” said Brent Kisling, executive director for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “Oklahoma Works Together is yet another great marketing asset for Commerce when working with businesses prospects seeking to expand or relocate.”

“Oklahoma has a robust education system that provides opportunity for all levels of workforce and career development options, with a statewide network of more than 100 combined campuses, Oklahoma is well-positioned to deliver training with accredited programs, custom curriculum and relevant equipment.” Said David Stewart, chair of the Oklahoma Workforce Committee and CEO of MidAmerica Industrial Park.

The Rogers County Center for Manufacturing Workforce Excellence began meeting as a formal consortium in February 2020. For more information about how to become involved in Rogers County, contact Meggie Froman-Knight at meggie@growclaremore.com or 918-283-8240.

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