Report says employers frustrated with graduates

Wednesday, July 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma employers looking to hire new graduates, especially with telecommunications and information technology skills, are meeting with frustration, a new report indicates.

The 50-page report from the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning details a survey of 22 Oklahoma companies who say public colleges and universities are less than eager to develop college options to keep pace with employment trends.

Spokeswoman for the council, Lynn Schroeder, said some of the employers surveyed included the Nordam Group, WorldCom and Bama Cos.

"Oklahoma employers are frustrated by and very concerned abou thow difficult it is to get institutions to the table to work on developing education programs for the work force," the report states. "Almost all of these problems stem from the fact that there is no formalized, centralized process for working with institutions."

Businesses responding to the survey said community colleges and vocational technical schools tend to do a better job than universities in developing partnerships.

The low number of partnerships between universities and Oklahoma employers can produce college graduates lacking adequate skills for the workplace, said Schroeder. She said there is a gap in skill-sets being taught to graduates and skill-sets needed on the job. That's limiting some companies' expansions.

Regents Chancellor Hans Brisch said Oklahoma colleges have broad latitude to restructure programs. "There are no roadblocks from the regents to restructuring to meet business needs," said Brisch.

The majority of the companies responding to the survey expect company growth within three to five years. And at least 20 percent expect to double their work force if qualified workers are available.

Brisch said that OSU-Tulsa and the OU-OSU Research and Graduate Education Center, have made commitments to create degree programs to fit Tulsa's healthy telecommunications market. Currently, telecommunications businesses employ 25,000 workers with projections to add thousands more in the next five years.

The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University -- have developed technology transfer offices to partner directly with businesses for research and program development.