Three Oklahoma lawmakers will play host to an interim study that will examine how other tax credits have been used in other states as an enticement for employers who use apprenticeship programs.

The lawmakers contend, and we agree, that paid apprenticeships could help the state establish the skilled workforce employers look for when they want to expand or relocate. Having the pool of trained workers is key to the future of Oklahoma’s economic well-being.

State-registered apprenticeships could potentially offer lucrative opportunities for many Oklahomans and out-of-state career searches. This pathway, however, can be limited by the fact that some businesses might be reluctant to register with a state-regulated apprenticeship program.

The lawmakers backing the interim study — House Appropriation and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City — believe a tax credit might be enough to get employers to opt in. The study will determine whether it is a worthwhile proposal.

While we must remain vigilant when it comes to incentives and tax credits — the state can’t afford to hand out taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars without a return on the investment — this seems like an idea worth examining. Other states apparently have experienced success.

Success will require that our state leaders do everything within their power to develop a skilled, trained workforce. We should do everything to support those efforts.

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