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Careers in Construction Month highlights opportunities available in the field

Careers in Construction Month highlights opportunities available in the field

Carpenter/plumber Kelcy Hunter was cross-trained at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

More than 80,000 Oklahomans work in construction, and the state projects a growth rate of 14.5 percent by 2018.

Oklahoma CareerTech is joining the National Center for Construction Education and Research’s Build Your Future initiative to narrow the skills gap by showing young people and displaced workers the opportunities available in construction. This is the 11th year NCCER has honored careers in construction and the third year it has celebrated Careers in Construction Month.

Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed October as Careers in Construction Month in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education is highlighting both its training programs and opportunities in construction.

Through 2022, the need for workers in all areas of construction is expected to grow: carpenters by 24 percent, bricklayers and masons by 36 percent, electricians by 20 percent, plumbers and pipefitters by 21 percent and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers by 21 percent. In addition, forecasters predict that Oklahoma will need almost 3,000 more construction laborers by 2022.

Opportunities in construction aren’t just on the way, however; they are here now. More than 50 construction companies in Oklahoma say they are hiring workers in construction trades, said Allen Stolhand, trade and industrial education program specialist at ODCTE.

Oklahoma CareerTech offers training in carpentry, masonry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, heavy equipment operation, cabinetmaking and computer-aided design and drafting at technology centers and skills centers and construction-related certifications in 13 areas.

Kelcy Hunter is a project engineer at Nabholz Construction. She was a CareerTech grad in construction at Gordon Cooper Tech Center, and now she's a carpenter who is cross-trained in plumbing. She says she is constantly using the skills she gained at Gordon Cooper Tech and as a member of an all-female construction trades team that competed at SkillsUSA.

“For the competition, we had to answer real questions that owners in commercial construction want to know,” she said.

In fiscal year 2014, 2,260 students graduated from CareerTech construction-related programs, CareerTech granted 670 construction-related certifications, and 664 students found construction-related employment. The average wage for CareerTech graduates in construction jobs in Oklahoma is almost $14.50 an hour, Stolhand said.

“Oklahoma’s CareerTech System plays an integral role in training and education to prepare a construction trades workforce,” said Marcie Mack, Oklahoma CareerTech state director.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 59 campuses, 393 comprehensive school districts and 13 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities.

The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.


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