The number one driver in a company’s decision to locate in a community is whether there is a reliable pipeline of skilled employees to fill their jobs. This is one reason that we value our education partners as a key component of our local economic development strategy. Enid is fortunate to be able to offer career-tech, college, and university classes to our students and job seekers. Enid Public Schools, Autry Technology Center, Northern Oklahoma College, and Northwestern Oklahoma State University each play a unique role in training Enid’s workforce.
In NW Oklahoma there is a skills gap that continues to grow as companies are looking for trained employees with at least some education beyond high school. According to a report by Oklahoma Office for Workforce Development in 2019, 29% of the population in the western region had attained at least an associate’s degree, certificate, or some college while 15% had at least a bachelor’s degree. To meet the demand expected by 2024, 64% of the population will need an associate degree, certificate, or some college for the jobs created. Jobs that will demand at least a bachelor’s degree will also increase to 20%.
To work to close the skills gap, ERDA along with our education and industry partners are coming together to discuss solutions through the Elevate Enid Education & Workforce Development committee. Since forming in 2020, the group has met regularly to discuss strategies on raising awareness of education opportunities available in Enid, how to train more of our students and job seeks for the positions available in our region, and promote the open jobs available. Through the utilization of the career pathways model, a development of a workforce office at Autry Technology Center progress has been made towards these goals to have a trained and ready workforce.
We must do all we can to support funding for our regional higher education institutions with our state legislature. There are people across the state who don’t understand the value and impact that our regional university system has on the economies of the areas they serve. There is discussion that Oklahoma would benefit from consolidating all funding and learning to the two largest state universities. Those of us in more remote parts of the state know the error in this thinking. Without NOC and NWOSU in Enid, we would opportunity to train our nurses, business people, teachers, and others right here at home.
Each of our schools offers something different. Autry has more than 25 career programs and offers a wide variety of evening and weekend short-term courses and certifications for many diverse career fields from cosmetology to robotics. NOC is a nationally recognized institution where students can earn an associate’s degree in 36 different programs. Northwestern Oklahoma State University offers 29-degree programs including, 19 including bachelor’s degrees, 9 graduate degrees, and an online doctorate of nurse practitioner. The economic impact of having these classes in town is felt for generations.
Whether you are just graduating high school or looking to change careers, Autry Tech, NOC Enid, and NWOSU Enid can help prepare you for the next step. NOC Enid: 580-548-2275 or www.noc.edu NWOSU-Enid 580-237-0334 or www.nwosu.edu Autry Tech www.autrytech.edu or 580-242-2750.
 Local Skills Gap Analysis information was compiled by the Western Oklahoma Workforce Development Area (WFDA). The analysis represents 25 Oklahoma counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Cimarron, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Major, Noble, Payne, Roger Mills, Texas, Washita, Woods, and Woodward. Source: Emsi-economicmodeling.com – 2020.1 https://oklahomaworks.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Western-Briefing-2020.pdf