Businessman Chuck Mills: Oklahoma business community needs to be involved in education system

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:26am

Chuck Mills PhotoThe business community needs to be involved in improving this state’s education system. After all, having an educated workforce impacts the bottom line. The most important capital investment in every business is human capital.

Nothing is worse than having to turn away business because you have the capacity but not the people to fulfill an order. You’re never going to get that back.

The simple truth is that Oklahoma’s education system isn’t producing the talent we need. How do we, the job creators, fix that? By getting involved. If you keep saying you’re too busy or it’s too complicated, the problem will never get solved.

Our future employees are in classrooms today. Make sure that they’re learning the skills to get that job and a brighter future. Higher education, CareerTech, businesses and local chambers of commerce have teamed up in a few areas, such as Duncan and Shawnee, to make sure the education system is aligned to the needs of employers. We need every community to have these collaborations, tailoring them to fit the jobs in that region.

For too long, the best and brightest were leaving Oklahoma when they graduated. We’re starting to see a shift as high-paying jobs are created here. Whether it’s an engineer or a welder, this state has plenty of opportunities for skilled workers. As businesses, we help fund the education system through our taxes and rely on schools for employees. Reach out to educators. Let them know what students need so that they can be ready for either college or a career when they graduate from high school.

A lot is riding on what happens in the schools and it goes beyond profits. Millions of customers around the globe rely on the resources, products and services that Oklahoma generates. Meeting that demand will require everyone taking an active role in creating a better, more productive education system.

Mills is president of Mills Machine Co. in Shawnee and chairman of the board for the State Chamber of Oklahoma.

This opinion editorial was posted on Newsok.com on October 22, 2014