Job resource website connects Oklahomans to employers
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s office is hoping to find jobs for more graduates and unemployed people in the state through its new employment website initiative this spring.
Fallin outlined her initiatives to increase the number of degrees and certificates awarded in Oklahoma by 67 percent over the next 12 years in her February State of the State address, according to a press release.
Along with her Complete College America Initiative, she also launched OKJobsMatch.com to link unemployed students and Oklahomans to employers by posting resumes and listing jobs online, according to a press release.
Site development began in summer 2011, and the office reached out then to universities and others, said Shawna McWaters-Khalousi, the director of green programs for the Department of Commerce.
The program began as part of a grant with educational institutions across the state to identify green jobs, McWaters-Khalousi said. However, the department realized it could expand the project to something more useful.
However, the director of career services Bette Scott said her office just learned about it this spring.
“This is a fairly new program for us,” she said. “We are just now in the process of looking at it to determine how it works so that we can then begin to direct students to use it.”
Because Scott said her office knows so little about it, she is having assistant directors set up accounts to get an idea of what students would experience on the website.
Right now, Career Services links to the website, but officials are not recommending it to students until they learn more about how it works.
“I would be able to say it’s something we offer and encourage them to use it, but we can’t track how many do it,” Scott said. “We’re anxious to learn more about it and inform the students, but it will be pretty much be next year’s students.”
OU has a similar service that lets students upload resumes for potential employers to look at, according to its website.
Currently, more than 5,000 people have uploaded resumes to OKJobsMatch.com, but the site won’t let employers start accessing it until late spring, McWaters-Khalousi said.
“We need a strong talent pool of Oklahomans first,” she said.
Part of the delay is legislation to allow more data sharing, which is how part of the website operates, McWaters-Khalousi said. The website works by asking users questions to determine their skills and matching those with abilities that employers need. Users also can look at specific career paths and see what credentials they may need to qualify for a position.
This spring, approximately 32,400 students will graduate from Oklahoma universities and seek more education or employment, particularly in business and nursing, according to a press release from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
For the website to be more successful, the state is trying to create a more diverse economy offering these students and Oklahomans job opportunities in a variety of fields.
The legislature has focused on that by creating the right kind of environment where businesses would want to locate, said Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, chair of the Economic Development, Tourism and Financial Services Committee.
Examples include trying to improve the workers’ compensation system, one of the main reasons employers don’t want to come to Oklahoma, McDaniel said. The committee also focuses on cleaning up the state budget.
“Most employers will realize if state budgets are not financially sound, and it would put them in a situation where tax increases would prevent them from wanting to do business,” McDaniel said. “We don’t want the writing on the wall that a tax increase is inevitable.”
However, even these efforts to diversify the Oklahoma economy still revolve around energy because that is the staple of Oklahoma’s economy, political science professor Keith Gaddie said.
“If we’re not doing energy, Oklahoma isn’t worth living in,” Gaddie said. “It’s like taking the whiskey and tobacco and coal out of Kentucky.”