Muskogee Receives Workforce Certification

(OKLAHOMA CITY) –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.

“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.

“This framework facilitates the integration of resources within Oklahoma’s workforce and education system to ultimately launch a highly-effective and visible program that businesses can trust to support their growth and expansion,” said David Stewart, chair of the Oklahoma Workforce Committee and CEO of MidAmerica Industrial Park. “Oklahoma Works Together is a collaborative model that incorporates best practices and ensures decisions are industry-driven to meet localized workforce needs today and in the future and will be the catalyst that moves Oklahoma’s workforce to a top ten status.”

Oklahoma Works Together identifies and certifies localized collaborations which meet and exceed superior workforce development standards as a CWE. Nine organizations completed an accreditation process based on the newly established standards and guidelines, including: Broken Arrow, led by the Broken Arrow Chamber and Economic Development Corporation; El Reno, led by the Canadian Valley Technology Center; Duncan, led by Duncan Area Economic Development; Pryor, led by MidAmerica Industrial Park; Muskogee, led by the Port of Muskogee’s Industrial Development Office, Ponca City, led by Pioneer Technology Center; Rogers County, led by Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority and Tulsa Ports; Tulsa, led by the Tulsa Regional Chamber; and a partnership between Tulsa and Oklahoma City led by Tulsa Community College and Rose State College.

“This designation is reflective of the hard work of Muskogee’s workforce and training partners in aligning the labor needs of our manufacturers with education and training resources and career exposure initiatives,” said Marie Synar, director of Industrial Development for the Port of Muskogee.  “Recognizing the importance workforce has on our economic development efforts, our office created a full-time workforce development manager position in 2015.  Lindsey McCall, who assumed the position in 2018, has done an outstanding job building upon Muskogee’s Dream It. Do It. program and was instrumental in the launch of the Muskogee MFG Jobs initiative in March”, said Synar.  “This CWE certification is a great way for us to communicate to prospective businesses as well as, our existing manufacturers, how we are intentionally working to address their current and future workforce needs.”

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.

 

“Muskogee’s designation as a center of workforce excellence is a critical step towards expanding our workforce capacity to facilitate the recruitment of new industrial and technology jobs,” said Mayor Marlon Coleman. “Muskogee has highway, waterway, airway, railway and this designation further enhances our place as a leader in workforce development in Oklahoma.”

Muskogee applied to become a CWE in Manufacturing through the formation of the Muskogee County Advisory Council, a committee led by the Port of Muskogee’s Industrial Development Office to provide oversight and direction of the Muskogee CWE.

The Muskogee County Center of Workforce Excellence brings together education, industry and community partners to provide a talent pipeline for current and prospective industry. This designation will build on the area’s long-standing collaborative partnerships and coordinated workforce delivery system, and includes representation by employers, industry-led associations, educational institutions, training providers, workforce partners, tribal governments, state agencies, and non-profit organizations.

“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,” Stewart said. “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.”

“Our industrial development team is among the best in the state. I am proud of their efforts in workforce development, and for positioning Muskogee County to be able to better bridge the gap between employer needs and workforce skills,” said Ken Doke, Muskogee County Commissioner, District 1.

The Oklahoma Workforce Committee will begin a second round of Oklahoma Works Together accreditation for certification as a CWE in February 2021.

For more information about this program, contact Lindsey, Workforce Development Manager, Muskogee City-County Port Authority, (918) 682-7887 or email to lindsey@muskogeeport.com.