CareerTech, manufacturers work together to expand Oklahoma’s economy
The Oklahoma CareerTech System is working hard to train the next generation of employees to help the state’s manufacturing sector continue to expand.
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and its technology centers across the state are joining Oklahoma’s manufacturers to celebrate Manufacturing Day Oct. 3. Part of the focus of the day is addressing the skilled labor shortage in the United States, according to the Manufacturing Day website at www.mfgday.com.
CareerTech is part of the effort to fill skilled labor positions in Oklahoma, said Interim State Director Marcie Mack.
“To close the skills gap in manufacturing, CareerTech offers workforce education solutions that deliver on industry-recognized credentials,” she said. “Through customized training and career programs, CareerTech provides high-quality workforce training that directly impacts the manufacturing industry and strives to close the skills gap.”
During the 2012-13 school year, Oklahoma CareerTech students in full-time programs earned more than 7,600 manufacturing-related certifications that were industry-given or endorsed or were aligned with national or state standards, based on manufacturing-related occupations in the Occupational Information Network.
In addition to teaching the next generation of workers, CareerTech’s technology centers also work with businesses to help current workers learn new skills. Each year since 2009, the Oklahoma CareerTech System has served an average of 7,000 industries and provided customized training through nearly 300,000 enrollments of existing workers.
Jean-Pierre Gielen, plant manager of ASCO Aerospace USA in Stillwater, said manufacturers can benefit from the Oklahoma CareerTech System when they develop relationships with their local technology centers. Such relationships allow CareerTech to provide specialized training that may not otherwise be available in the area, he said.
The Belgian aerospace component manufacturer announced in 2012 it would open a production facility in Stillwater. The state-of-the-art facility’s production processes include machining, heat treatment, quality, surface treatments and assembly, Gielen said.
ASCO and Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater work together to train employees. Because aerospace industry is new to the Stillwater area, Gielen explained, ASCO has implemented training plans that include employees learning through Meridian and also traveling abroad to learn ASCO-specific processes.
“This type of on-the-job training has helped employees become proficient in aerospace manufacturing processes and transfer their newly gained knowledge and skill to their Stillwater co-workers,” he said.
According to the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, manufacturers account for nearly 11 percent of the state’s economy and employ 8.4 percent of the workforce. Those employees also tend to make more money. Manufacturing compensation is $24,000 higher than that of other nonfarm employers in Oklahoma, according to OMA numbers.
In 2011, Oklahoma had 3,559 manufacturers, and in 2013, manufacturing’s share of Oklahoma’s exports was 91.4 percent, according to the OMA.
Manufacturing Day is a joint effort of the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International; the National Association of Manufacturers; and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. It is celebrated by companies and educational entities nationwide.
Manufacturing Day “addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry,” according to www.mfgday.com.
For more information about Oklahoma CareerTech, visit www.okcareertech.org.
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.
Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor
Published Oct. 2, 2014