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Oklahoma CareerTech trains world-class workforce

Feb. 13, 2018

CareerTech Education Month once again finds Oklahoma CareerTech focusing on powering Oklahoma’s economy by developing a world-class workforce in Oklahoma.

“Helping students discover careers they love and helping them learn the skills they need to enter those careers is vital to developing Oklahoma’s economy -- as is providing employees with the skills that business and industry need now and will need in the future,” said Marcie Mack, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education state director.

The Oklahoma CareerTech System is composed of local technology centers; services and training for business and industry; programs in K-12 schools; skills centers programs in Oklahoma correctional facilities; and adult basic education programs. In fiscal year 2017, CareerTech’s enrollments totaled more than 500,000, and CareerTech System graduates added more than $3.5 billion to Oklahoma’s economy.

Oklahoma has 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses that offer career training to high school and adult students, along with training and assistance for the state’s businesses and industries.

High school students can attend their technology centers in their districts for free, learning skills that will help them land good jobs after school and position them to continue their education after graduation. Certifications earned through CareerTech courses give students entrance into higher-paying fields of work and can also help them obtain higher education without incurring excessive debt.

Construction superintendent Jarrod Parks completed Gordon Cooper Technology Center’s residential and commercial carpentry program and then enrolled in a two-year construction program at OSU-Okmulgee. Parks said Crossland Construction recruited him on campus and offered him a job the week he graduated. His remodeling projects include five Tulsa grocery stores and multiple schools.

Adult students at the technology centers can learn new skills and earn certificates and credentials to get jobs, change careers or advance in their current careers. In FY17, CareerTech students earned 15,152 certificates and industry-recognized credentials, showing that they have the skills they need to work.

In 391 of Oklahoma’s comprehensive school districts in FY17, 37 percent of sixth- through 12th-grade students -- and almost half of ninth- through 12th-grade students -- enrolled in CareerTech courses: agricultural education; business and information technology education; family and consumer sciences education; health careers education; marketing education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and trade and industrial education.

More than 88,000 students also learned leadership skills as members of co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA.

Television producer Kela Kelln says her involvement in FCCLA and FFA taught her basic life skills, such as financial planning, interviewing and public speaking skills, and the importance of a strong work ethic.

CareerTech helps provide qualified employees for Oklahoma’s businesses and industries by preparing state residents for successful careers, but it also helps business and industry directly.

CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services Division helped more than 7,800 companies increase their profitability in FY17 with increased sales, higher productivity, reduced costs and expanded operations and helped companies move to and start in Oklahoma and provided training for 1,542 new jobs. Also, the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network helped state companies secure more than $177 million in contracts.

Oklahoma CareerTech operates 16 skills centers in correctional facilities, teaching inmates and juvenile offenders work and life skills that help keep them in the workforce and out of the corrections system after their release. The system also helps those who dropped out of high school earn diplomas and gain skills to enter the workforce through the CareerTech dropout recovery program.

Kalli Watkins credits the skills centers staff at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center with teaching her job skills and helping her put together the resume that helped her land a job with Cherokee Nation’s Career Services office in Tulsa.

ODCTE also oversees 31 adult basic education providers with 121 sites that offer high school equivalency programs and tests along with English literacy and civics courses. In FY17, 17,989 students enrolled in CareerTech’s adult basic education programs.

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 58 campuses, 391 comprehensive school districts, 16 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 31 Adult Basic Education service providers.

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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