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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate overwhelmingly supported legislation Tuesday to continue strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce. Senate Bill 621, by Sen. Adam Pugh came from recommendations of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Funding’s Economic and Workforce Development Working Group, which the Edmond Republican co-chaired. The measure would create the Oklahoma Workforce Transformation Act and the Oklahoma Workforce Commission to coordinate the development of the state’s workforce to better meet the needs of in-demand industries and further grow the economy.
“In speaking with and hearing from businesses across the state, their main issues have been workforce and our talent pipeline, which are both insufficient. As our state and economy continue to grow, we need to make sure we’re not putting companies and industries in a position where they’re constantly having to steal workers away from other businesses and industries,” Pugh said. “We must invest in our human capital and create a workforce to meet our needs as we grow. This will require having an entity at the state level that can coordinate our entire workforce development system, including our state agencies, career techs, higher education system, the nonprofit sector, and our public and private businesses and industries. We must all get on the same page and work toward a common goal, which this commission will help accomplish.”
SB 621 would authorize the commission to administer the newly created Workforce Development Revolving Fund and work with public and private entities to enter into contracts or agreements for studies, professional services, grant administration and procurement, research projects, supplies, or any other services they deem necessary to carry out their purpose. The commission would be comprised of nine members appointed by the governor, Senate pro tempore, and House speaker. Members would have to be at least 25 years old and have at least three years’ experience working in the private sector. Initial appointment terms would be staggered, with subsequent terms lasting three years.
“We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. However, we have a significant underemployment problem, and this commission will work with public and private entities to create a comprehensive workforce strategy to help companies get the professionals they need to be successful,” Pugh said. “This is also a major retention and recruitment opportunity for our state because if companies know Oklahoma has the necessary qualified personnel available to meet their needs, they’re more likely to consider relocating here. The same goes in order to keep the current industries and businesses we already have – we want them to stay here, so we must meet their employment needs.”
The bill now moves to the opposite chamber where Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, is serving as the principal House author.
For more information, contact: Sen. Pugh: (405) 521-5622 or Adam.Pugh@oksenate.gov