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Red River Technology Center to add new class

DUNCAN, Okla._A new program at the Red River Technology Center isn't just giving students more options in the classroom; it's helping boost Duncan's economy as well.

The Precision Machinery program will provide night classes to students that will cater specifically to machine and oil industries already established in Stephens County.

With big name companies like Halliburton in the area, Duncan and Stephens County are home to over 35 machine shops, many of which produce and manage heavy machinery in the oil fields. But those machines require very specific skills, causing those companies to outsource their workforce outside of the state. Now with the help of the red river technology center, those companies are hoping to put more of Stephens County residents to work.

"There are so many jobs available, but the problem is the workers aren't always a good fit for the jobs that are open," said Nancy Richardson of Express Employment Professionals

Richardson says workers who are trained for the county's biggest industry are hard to come by locally.

"The largest concentration of machine shops is in this area, being that we're oil field-based and the industry that surrounds the Stephens County area," said Richardson.

The program was made possible through a state grant, so far its helped partner students and Duncan's workforce.

"Those students are going to be committed to the program as well as the employers committed to hiring them. It's just a growing need within increased production and the increased need. They'll be trained in technical education as well as manufacturing and safety training so what we can do is bring a work force that's already existed here but bring them a skill set that will bring them longevity and a career," said Lisa Williams, Career Development Coordinator for Red River Technology Center.

Organizers hope the classes will encourage more people to learn state-of-the-art lessons that will be even more valuable to their future.

"If we can put a skilled workforce together and keep people in Duncan, we don't want people leaving Duncan to find jobs. There are jobs here. It's just a matter of finding the skill set. If we can't import the people to fill the jobs, then we need to grow the people," said Richardson.

Organizers will start their pilot run next week when the program's first students hit the classroom for the very first time.

For more information or to sign up for the precision machinery program, you can contact the Red River Technology Center at 580-252-0606.

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