A new report from the Office of Workforce Development shows Oklahoma is on track to experience a shortage of nearly 20,000 workers next decade due to projected economic growth, high rates of retirement and a lack of local talent.
“It’s an issue of both not having enough people and then also not the right skills to replace people,” explained spokesperson David Crow.
According to the report, an estimated 288,000 Oklahomans ages 55 to 64 currently work. Using the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they constitute about 15 percent of the state’s workforce, and they are eligible to retire within the next ten years.
“2028 is a key year where we see a good chunk of baby boomers having left the workforce,” Crow said.
If the economy continues growing, there will not be enough new workers to replace retirees. Plus, Oklahoma’s economic landscape is changing as “service and technology-focused” industries grow and the share of oil and gas employment declines. The majority of future jobs will require a better educated workforce.
The report claims more than 70 percent of jobs in Oklahoma will require education or training beyond high school in the next ten years. Jobs requiring just a high school diploma are also expected to grow at lower rates than those requiring post-secondary education. Crow says his office consistently sees large numbers of open positions in transportation, healthcare, construction and finance.
“We want to see people have the skills, knowledge and ability to take those positions,” Crow said.
Filling these future jobs will require increasing educational attainment beyond high school, recruiting more people to the state, and stemming the exodus of college graduates.