McAlester Workforce Development
Workforce Training is a Priority in McAlester
McAlester, Oklahoma is ready to work. The community prioritizes workforce retention, attraction, and development. Several organizations have partnered to build and improve the workforce pipeline that feeds our local businesses. These include student internships, customized training packages, dedicated staff to promote workforce development for industries, and cost sharing on training from the State and Choctaw Nation.
Eastern Oklahoma State College (EOSC) and Kiamichi Technology Centers (KTC) are the foundation of workforce training in McAlester. Both actively prepare current and future workers to thrive in high-demand jobs through career pathways that teach the exact skills needed by current employers. Full-time curriculum includes degrees and certifications in CNC Technology, Computer-Aided Design, Construction Technology, Computer Information Systems, Electrical Technology, Computer Coding, Welding Technology, and Nursing.
The workforce needs of industry are always evolving and KTC and EOSC are responsive and adaptive to those changes. Industrial leaders can rest assured knowing that if a new piece of equipment arrives or if they need employees trained on a new process, there is a solution already in place to help. KTC routinely develops customized training specifically tailored to meet the local needs. Simultaneously, Eastern’s programs are flexible enough that businesses can send employees to take specific classes, even if they don’t want to pursue the full degree. “We are working on expanding our short-term certificate offerings. Businesses can use the campus facilities for training or meetings as well,” said Dr. Janet Wansick, EdD, President of Eastern Oklahoma State College.
In addition to full-time options, KTC provides short-term classes, such as safety training, CPR / First Aid / AED, and forklift training. New opportunities are always being created. Shelley Free, Superintendent/CEO of KTC described recent and upcoming program expansions. “In the last six months, we have developed online onboarding for new hires, offering basic Microsoft Office training that can be customized for the specific business. We are currently developing an online Intro to Customer Service Training that will prepare students for entering the workforce. Essentially, anything the business needs, training wise, we can find an affordable solution.”
Workforce Pipeline Support
The community recognizes that workforce development begins long before high school ends. McAlester Public Schools (MPS) is another workforce partner and is vital to the preparation and success of its soon-to-be workers. MPS offers STEM-inspired classes, including robotics and aeronautics, to ensure students can receive relevant experience in a career field of their choice. McAlester Juniors and Seniors can also be concurrently enrolled at EOSC or KTC, allowing the students an opportunity to accelerate their education by taking advanced classes and potentially qualifying for specialized certifications.
Randy Hughes, Superintendent for McAlester Public Schools, knows the strength of the McAlester school district firsthand, having worked in McAlester for 32 years. “The school district and community are growing together. It’s a symbiotic relationship and one that McAlester businesses are also supportive of. We currently have 80 students placed in internships so they can gain experience while earning high school credit.”
McAlester Has a Trained Workforce
McAlester is home to several large businesses that require a workforce with specialized skills. Employers such as McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, McAlester Regional Health Center, and Spirit AeroSystems have relied on the community’s workforce pipeline to meet their labor needs. As a result, McAlester contains a large number of expert workers. For example, Spirit AeroSystems had designated their McAlester facility as a 3-axis and 4-axis Center of Excellence for CNC machining because of the local workforce expertise.
However, the economic shocks of the pandemic ultimately caused two local employers, Spirit AeroSystems and National Oilwell Varco, to close their McAlester facilities and displace 450 workers. This creates a unique opportunity for growing manufacturers that need a pre-trained workforce with skills in CNC machining and metalworking. The ability of a business to join the McAlester community and to become quickly operational has never been easier.
Free offered additional insight into these workers. “We have a lot of people come in just looking for an opportunity to be trained to provide employers quality work for good pay. Due to the recent departure of industries from McAlester, there is an available workforce. If provided the right opportunity, those affected by the shutdowns would do an excellent job for any business that came in.”
Inviting Quality of Life
How McAlester is able to retain such a skilled and diverse workforce can be explained by the high quality of life and low cost of living of residents. From McAlester, locals can access the natural beauty of the rolling hills of southeast Oklahoma. Minutes from the 100,000-acre Lake Eufaula, anyone can fish, boat, or swim at their convenience. McAlester has a unique culture that blends Western, Choctaw Nation, and Italian heritage (and food!). Home to McAlester Regional Health Center, the area’s only Level III Trauma Center, our healthcare community is thriving.
To see more about the quality of life in McAlester, check out the Community Tour Videos. To learn how McAlester can be a solution for your workforce challenges, visit mcalesterdevelopment.com or contact Kirk Ridenour, Economic Development Director for the City of McAlester at firstname.lastname@example.org.