Manufacturing Leaders Swap Work Force Ideas at Midwest City Conference

Article excerpt

Manufacturing in the state is in good shape, but leaders are trying to find ways to bolster the work force, said Roy Peters, president of the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence.

Peters was among 350 manufacturing leaders who took part in the Oklahoma Conference on Manufacturing Wednesday at the Reed Center. The Alliance presented the conference, which was sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

"Recent history tells us manufacturing jobs went from 141,000 to 145,000 in the state," Peters said. "It's going up; we're hiring."

The increase in production is beginning to put a strain on the work force. Peters said state manufacturing and education leaders are collecting their thoughts and beginning to come up with answers.

"There have been some solutions," Peters said. "Career Tech has stepped up with a shorter-term program. Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech has redesigned its program to make it more attractive to students."

Peters said the Governor's Council and the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence have created ideas that could utilize welfare recipients. Also, a program with the Department of Corrections concerning early parolees could boost the employee numbers, he said.

"We are looking at the problem of high school and college dropouts and finding ways to get them into the work force," Peters said. "The sales pitch is that these are fairly high-paying jobs. The average is about $15 an hour with benefits."

Peters said the oil and gas industry and the aerospace industry have increased manufacturing figures in the area.

"A lot of the growth has been driven by energy, particularly in refinery replacement parts, gas processing and tanks; it's really a growing sector," he said. …