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Work Ready Communities

To ensure our state offers industry the innovative talent needed to compete in a knowledge-based economy, Oklahoma communities can now be certified as work ready. It’s a designation that Kiamichi Technology Center's Jodie White says, gives existing employers and new businesses a depenbable pipeline of skilled workers.

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Work Ready Communities
Kiamichi Tech Center--Poteau (Work Ready)

Show Dates

Show 1004: Work Ready Communities

Air date: January 24, 2010



Rob:  Well, Oklahomans are hard workers recognized nationally for their ability to get the job done.  Yet, as valuable as this strong, unyielding work ethic is, it’s not enough to compete in a global job market.  Now, to ensure our state offers industry the innovative talent needed to compete in a knowledge-based economy, Oklahoma communities can now be certified as work-ready; a designation that gives existing employers and new businesses alike a dependable pipeline of skilled workers.  In this week’s “Where the Jobs Are,” we head to Oklahoma’s first work-ready region.

Russ:  In the southeast Oklahoma town of Broken Bow, Pan Pacific Products is stacking up to be a leader in the forest products industry.  A company on the cutting edge thanks to abundant resources, high technology, and a skilled workforce.

Cheryl Fortner:  Pretty much in this area we’re able to get the employees that we need.

Russ:  Cheryl Fortner is the human resource manager for the Broken Bow plant, and says that finding good employees wasn’t always easy.

Cheryl:  We, in the past, have had employees who had a hard time accomplishing the work that we needed done on the chop saws due to being maybe deficient in some math skills, reading skills, locating information skills.

Russ:  Issues that are no longer worrisome for Pan Pacific, because southeast Oklahoma has been certified as the state’s first work-ready region.

Susan Savage:  One of the things that all states have to address is the readiness of their workforce.

Russ:  Susan Savage is Oklahoma’s secretary of state, and says that earning the work-ready certification gives this region a competitive edge.

Susan:  I think anytime you have an area that needs and seeks economic development, the more people can come together, the education system, the Chambers of Commerce, the government systems at every level and pool their resources and combine their efforts and create a focus, then what you demonstrate to yourselves is how competitive you can be.  You demonstrate that as well to potential businesses.

Russ:  And come together they did.  Obtaining certification for this ten county region was nothing short of a team effort between numerous groups in the area.  Jodie White is with Kiamichi Technology Center, and says cooperation was essential.

Jodie White:  So many people were involved in this.  And I think that’s one of the unique factors in all of this, is to think that we went in thirteen counties, and that our partnership list is quite lengthy.

Russ:  A list that included the ten-campus Kiamichi District as well as the Choctaw Nation, local schools, colleges, and workforce development groups.

Jodie:  I think it’s just going to show, you know, that there’s a workforce.  We know we’ve had a good workforce out here.  They stay on the job.  They have longevity.  And they have very good work ethics.

Russ:  And for companies like Pan Pacific, the work-ready certification has given them a standard that they can use to find the best employees.

Cheryl:  We use the Work Keys testing for our level-one employees.  And so they go to the Workforce Oklahoma; they want to apply for Pan Pacific; then they complete the Work Keys testing; they make a level-four and then they are given an application.  By taking the Work Keys test, then they see where their skills are at; they have the opportunity to improve these skills, if they are deficient in them; or if they’re not deficient in them, then they are able to put in an application with us.

Russ:  Putting workers in southeast Oklahoma a cut above the competition.

Rob:  Now the thirteen southeastern Oklahoma counties recognized for their work-ready status are the fourth area in the state to receive the certification and the first multi-county region to earn the distinction.  Now if you’d like to learn more about work-ready communities, we do have an additional story about efforts happening in Chickasha to prepare that community for new jobs.  To see that story and more, just go to our website at and click on this week’s value added.