Tackling the region's talent needs
Each year, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s economic development team meets with hundreds of local companies. They meet with companies big and small, across all industries, with a primary goal in mind: listening.
These visits are an open platform for the business community to express any concerns about the region’s business climate. Over the past five years or so, no matter the industry or size of the company, one theme became prevalent across the board: talent. How to keep talent, recruit it, develop it and find it.
“The ability to recruit and retain talent is the No. 1 issue facing business growth, not only in Oklahoma City, but nationwide,” said Greg Jones, director of talent and business growth for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Our goal is to build collaborations between industries and education to ensure our community has the workforce it needs to prosper for the next several decades.”
To attack the problem, the Chamber hired national strategists to evaluate what needs to be done to help our companies meet their workforce needs. They dug into how talent, or lack thereof, is impacting businesses across Oklahoma City. The results of that analysis has formed the basis of our “next generation talent strategy.”
Some key findings of their local research were:
- Big data and analytics are driving factors in almost every enterprise, across multiple industry sectors.
- Technology is automating everyday tasks, requiring workers who can rapidly diagnose problems and quickly solve problems.
- Workers need higher skill levels to do the same job they did in the past.
- Companies are forced to quickly adapt to new technologies or risk failure. This has fundamentally altered how we define and train for the jobs Oklahoma City companies need to fill.
Those findings helped spur the creation of a new talent initiative by the Chamber last year. To start, the initiative focuses on two key strategies.
The first new strategy centers on supporting our companies in the training and upskilling of their current workforce. A key aspect of this strategy will be to create cooperation between all sizes of companies, across industries, to create high-quality certifications and associated programs.
The second strategy in the talent initiative is attracting more people to middle-skill positions. There are a number of vital jobs left unfilled across Oklahoma City that require only certifications or associate degrees. The Chamber is working toward developing a coordinated effort to help students, in addition to adults still exploring career choices, discover and build interest in middle-skill careers through camps, job shadows and other collaborative programs.
“The talent issue can only be solved by cooperation,” said Jones. “This is a big issue that will take everyone coming together and pulling in the same direction. The great thing is that in Oklahoma City that is what we do best.”