The Tulsa Regional Chamber and several community partners developed an unprecedented 24-week initiative to gauge the state of the Tulsa area’s workforce and are now working to draft a regional plan for workforce development aimed at improving job training opportunities for residents and keeping the area’s economy competitive.
Linked with the region’s ongoing visioning effort for improving life and business in northeast Oklahoma, this Workforce Analysis Project aims to address increasing competition from other metropolitan regions and find ways to fill workforce talent gaps that have left local high-paying jobs unfilled.
“Workforce challenges are not unique to Tulsa, but our ability to rise above them will determine how seriously we can compete as a region in the years to come. It is imperative that we have a strategy for doing so.”
Mike Neal, President and CEO, Tulsa Regional Chamber
The Tulsa region is fortunate to have an existing workforce training pipeline that is strong and well-developed, with rigorous CareerTech programs, quality colleges and universities and a corporate community that partners with those institutions to enhance workforce development.
However, the area also faces harsh realities, with increasingly greater competition from other metropolitan areas for high-paying job and gaps in residents’ education and training levels across geographic lines. Meanwhile, some existing employers struggle to find qualified workers for the jobs they already have.
This Workforce Analysis Project is designed to identify such problems — as well as the region’s workforce strengths. Ultimately, a unified regional strategy for overcoming obstacles and maximizing strengths will move the area forward and keep the region’s economy competitive.
The project is aimed at building a strategy to align education and workforce investment with economic development activities throughout the region, particularly in underserved areas of north, west and east Tulsa. The mission: Identify workforce needs through a comprehensive community collaboration process facilitated by a team of research consultants from Avalanche Consulting and CAEL, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.
The consulting team engaged elected officials, businesses, community leaders, educators and residents in more than 50 meetings. Among their objectives were identifying target sectors that provide the best opportunities for all area residents, maximizing uses of current education and training programs and determining how to remove barriers for residents seeking to increase their skill levels.
The consultants’ report and strategy can be found here.
A $110,000 venture, the project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and funding partners The George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Indian Nations Council of Governments, the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa and Public Service Company of Oklahoma.