Education is key to making Oklahoma's business environment competitive, expert says

President of Council on Competitiveness meets with Oklahoma officials.
By Catherine Sweeney, Business Writer Modified: July 2, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: July 1, 2014
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To thrive in a global economy, Oklahoma needs to focus on education and maintain its pro-business environment, said an economic policy expert.

Deborah Wince-Smith, who serves as president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, a nonprofit focused on economic development, is spending the week in Oklahoma meeting with business leaders and the governor’s office.

The council includes CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders who essentially form a think-tank aiming to guide nonpartisan public policy.

“The most important issue for Oklahoma and every state ... is to ensure that they are developing talent and a skilled workforce to compete in an extremely competitive 21st century economy,” she said.

Children need to be prepared to support the economy of the future, which will include jobs in high-tech manufacturing, research and development.

She suggested Oklahoma is already on track, first citing Gov. Mary Fallin’s initiative as National Governors Association chairwoman.

The initiative, “America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs,” points out the importance of post-secondary education, noting that college or professional degrees have replaced high school diplomas as the standard level of education.

In a letter to the organization, Fallin names STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — as some of the best areas of study for Oklahoman students.