Workforce development emphasized by Tulsa congressman

U.S. Representative Kevin Hern met with industry leaders at Tulsa Tech’s Lemley Campus in Tulsa to discuss the vocational training programs offered by Tulsa Tech and other technical colleges in the area.

“In this booming job market, many employers are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill their open positions and growing companies,” said Rep. Hern. “The problem isn’t that there aren’t enough workers – it’s that these skilled jobs need specific training. I’ve spent a lot of time this year with our local technical colleges and with manufacturers. I’ve said it all along: my top priority is to put our people back to work. There are incredible opportunities here, we just need to connect the dots between the graduates of vocational programs and employers who need skilled labor.”

Representative Hern has met with industry leaders across the First District over the last several months to learn more about the issues employers are facing when hiring for skilled jobs. Many local employers are not utilizing local talent from schools like Tulsa Tech.

With skyrocketing tuition at traditional colleges, many students are incurring more debt than they will earn from their chosen field. Vocational programs allow for a higher return on investment with a shorter and less expensive education.

  • Employers in the construction fields are desperately needing workers. According to a recent study by the Association for General Contractors,
    • 70% of construction companies are having trouble finding qualified workers nationwide.
    • In Oklahoma, 75% of companies report having a hard time filling some hourly craft positions. 55% of companies rate the adequacy of the local pipeline for supplying well-trained craft personnel as POOR.
  • The Manufacturing Institute studies indicate that 89 percent of U.S. manufacturing sector executives agree there is a talent shortage in the US manufacturing sector
    • The same study indicates that the skills gap could leave 2.4 million jobs unfilled of the next 10 years, putting nearly $500 billion of manufacturing GDP at risk and $2.5 trillion of economic output over the next 10 years.
    • According to the US. Dept. of Education, there will be 68 percent more job openings in infrastructure-related fields in the next five years than there are people training to fill them.
  • Parental involvement in the problem: According to the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manufacturing Institute, only 30 percent of American parents indicate that they would consider guiding their child toward a career in the manufacturing field. 
  • According to the same AGC study cited earlier, only 31% of Oklahoma companies report outreaching to local colleges, universities, or vocational schools as a method that their firm uses to recruit workers.
  • Congress has witnessed the reality of these statistics firsthand as Rep. Hern has visited businesses and spoken with employers across the district.