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CareerTech Seeks Funding Increase, Announces 2014 Legislative Agenda

A job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company.
CareerTech Seeks Funding Increase, Announces 2014 Legislative Agenda

Flanked by Oklahoma CareerTech Student Organization state officers in the Blue Room of the State Capitol, Robert Sommers announces the 2014 CareerTech legislative agenda and budget request.

OKLAHOMA CITY – (JAN. 23, 2014) Education and business leaders gathered today at the State Capitol to advocate for a $35 million funding increase to the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, citing the tremendous need to provide Oklahomans with an education that moves them into wealth-building careers and grows a qualified workforce for employers.

“Only half of Oklahoma’s jobs provide living wages. When students and adults make education and career choices, they need to understand the reality of today’s job market,” said Robert Sommers, state secretary of education and workforce development and state director/CEO of ODCTE.

“While there are many purposes for education, we must ensure Oklahomans are learning how to become economically productive. That is what CareerTech does. And that is what our legislative agenda seeks to accomplish – fulfilling our mission to provide a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every Oklahoma company.”

Sommers laid out a plan to enhance the collaborative relationship among K-12 education, CareerTech and higher education to help students find their passions and, in turn, make their learning relevant to their career paths.

For adults, CareerTech leaders aim to increase the number of industry credentials and college credits earned to move Oklahomans into high-quality careers and lifestyles.

Sommers also pledged to use the principles of Gov. Mary Fallin’s National Governors Association initiative, “America Works,” as a model of how CareerTech can expand partnerships with existing workforces to provide customized training, encourage new companies to come to Oklahoma and work more closely with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to target skilled workforce growth in key industries.

Oklahoma State Chamber President and CEO Fred Morgan also commented on a recent survey of Oklahoma businesses conducted by the chamber that showed 82 percent of companies surveyed had done business with a tech center in the last 12 months. This report highlights the importance of CareerTech in assisting business and industries in training workers, he said.

More needs to be done to enhance CareerTech’s ability to train more workers for Oklahoma companies, however, Morgan said. “I hear from business leaders all over the state that they have good-paying jobs because skilled workers just aren’t out there,” he said. “It is imperative we strategically align our educational system with the jobs our employers are creating now and in the future. Our CareerTech System is one of the important tools to make that happen and policymakers should make it as easy as possible for students to get the skills needed for the available jobs. A prosperous economic future depends on it.”

Dana Weber, CEO of Webco Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of specialty and pressure tubing based in Sand Springs, said, “CareerTech is critical to companies like Webco because they can teach many of the basic skills that our employees need to be successful, and most of these skills are not taught anywhere else. Webco and many companies like us want to expand in Oklahoma, but we can’t find enough qualified workers to fill our current needs. We also want more Oklahomans to know that companies like Webco provide many rewarding careers.

“As a state, if we want to strengthen our economy and expand our employment base, we must increase our investment in career and technical education to increase awareness of the many promising career opportunities and to teach the basic skills needed to be successful in these careers. I am particularly enthusiastic about Dr. Sommers’ ‘Pay for Performance’ approach that marries investment to proven results. That is really creative leadership.”

Sommers provided an overview of key legislative requests and agenda items for 2014. They are as follows:

  • New money for new performance-based funding.
  • Expand career development programs.
  • Upgrade the department’s information management systems.
  • Create new digitally empowered schools and programs that are personalized to youth and adults.

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