Tires, copiers, plastics, steel tubing and cosmetics are just a few of the products The State Chamber member companies such as Goodyear Tires, Stanley Systems, Georg Fisher Plastics and Webco Steel Tubing, and Cosmetic Specialty Labs fabricate right here in Oklahoma. These companies are among the thousands of manufacturing businesses generating 11 percent of Oklahoma's gross domestic production (GDP) and employing more than 135,000 individuals, a significant component of the state's economy.
The State Chamber and the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance joined with Governor Stitt as he declared October Manufacturing Month in Oklahoma. Whether supplying industries such as energy and back-office support or making consumer products used by billions globally, Oklahoma's manufacturers are advancing human progress and providing rewarding careers for Oklahomans.
Manufacturing Month provides students, parents, teachers, and elected officials a first-hand look at the promising opportunities in advanced manufacturing. Companies across Oklahoma will open their doors throughout October to introduce young people to the industry and show elected officials the economic impact job creators bring to towns and cities across the state.
The industry is growing, and experts predict the economic future of Oklahoma depends on a strong, growing and competitive industry with a newly skilled manufactuing workforce as a key driver in achieving that success. The U.S. is faced with a shortage of highly skilled creators and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) warns the industry will need to fill four million manufacturing jobs by 2030.
An industry is only as good as its people. The State Chamber Research Foundation's Economic Competitiveness Index reports Oklahoma benefits from a productive workforce, yet we need more individuals filling these distinctive jobs. We must align workforce development efforts between manufacturers, public and private providers, and education institutions to include stronger curriculum development, career preparation, and partnerships with the business community to meet the workforce needs.
A stronger workforce will strengthen the competitiveness of Oklahoma's manufacturing industry and promote innovations, lending to more jobs and enhanced wuality of life for families and communities in Oklahoma.
October is a perfect time to highlight the benefits of manufacturing in Oklahoma. The growth this industry brings to our economy and the skilled talent and workforc it is attracting will reap long-term benefits for future generations.
Note: this article was first published in The Journal Record on Oct. 8, 2021.