February is CTE Month, but shouldn’t every month be about career and technology education?
For more than 100 years, Oklahoma’s system of career and technology education has focused on improving Oklahoma’s economy by offering individuals the training and skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and providing companies with the required workforce necessary to compete globally.
A large gathering of community leaders, school officials, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel broke ground on the Marty Lewis Public Safety Training Facility recently at Gordon Cooper Technology Center.
GCTC Board of Education President Gary Crain said the board decided to name the new building in honor of GCTC Superintendent Marty Lewis because he fostered a culture of united purpose and commitment to serve people of this area.
A retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol supervisor, Crain said providing the latest and best training for emergency responders can make the difference between life and death in a critical situation.
“Leaders in this area worked with the technology center without division on the common goal of making our communities safer,” he said.
Lewis, who plans to retire at the end of June, acknowledged the support his family received from emergency responders when his son was involved in a fatal accident on Turner Turnpike in 2010.
“The police, firefighters and paramedics of this area deserve our respect and the best education and training we can provide for the future and existing emergency workforce,” he said.
The $5 million facility adjacent to 45th Street and the GCTC south entrance will house training for area high school students and working law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics.
The more than 20,000-square-feet facility contains four classrooms, a paramedic training lab, a firearm simulation room, a driving simulation room, a workout space, a large meeting room, a fire training tower and additional water features for fire equipment.
Construction is scheduled for completion in December.
Oklahoma CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services division has the resources to guide you through the maze of government contracting to help your company grow. Assistance for small business is available to train and retool workers or train a new workforce to guarantee production from day one. The CareerTech system also provides training and resources for volunteer firefighters and short term professional development for adults.
At the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech, our Skills Centers division offers job training to juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs. Programs like Cedar Canyon teach both job skills and life skills.
We’re more than Vo-Tech, we’re CareerTech, and we see YOU. Whether you’re getting a head start for college, or completing a career program, nothing teaches better than experience…and we have that in abundance. Keep striving, keep learning, and maximize your full potential!
ODCTE’s state appropriations request for fiscal year 2020 for the first regular session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature targets narrowing Oklahoma’s skills gap through the proposed increase of $21 million that would allow CareerTech to achieve the following:
Fund more than 130 unfunded programs and provide for 90 new programs to be added to K-12 CareerTech offerings.
Add 12 new programs in state correctional facilities that would serve 500 to 600 more inmates.
Increase Training for Industry Programs by 10 percent to more than 3,200 enrollments.
Increase customized training by 10 percent to almost 300,000 enrollments.
Increase certifications/credentials annually by 5 percent, adding almost 2,400 more during three years.
“Oklahoma has a skills gap, and CareerTech has a solution,” said Marcie Mack, ODCTE state director. “Investing in CareerTech will produce more skilled workers for existing, unfilled Oklahoma jobs. It will invigorate program offerings in our K-12 schools and technology centers. It powers training programs for Oklahoma businesses, and it gives our incarcerated students a second chance at life.”
As a part of the appropriations request, $11.8 million would go toward paying the state’s obligation to fund the required health benefit allowance. If the state funds the current requirement, Mack said, it will immediately free up that amount to be redirected to CareerTech classrooms.
The appropriations request seeks a 14.8 percent increase over the FY19 budget of $120.4 million. While funds did increase in FY19 from FY18 levels, in the last 10 years Oklahoma CareerTech education has seen an overall reduction in general appropriations by 28 percent.
Industry leaders from across sectors that provide significant impact to Oklahoma’s economy emphasized the need to increase investments in career-ready education as a primary component of moving Oklahoma forward.
“The strongest pipeline to meet the demand in the agriculture industry is through CareerTech agricultural education and the FFA,” said Brent Kisling, Enid Regional Development Alliance executive director. “This investment in agricultural education, as well as other K-12 CareerTech programs would provide direct funding to classroom resources.
“I truly have never seen a more valuable program than Oklahoma FFA when it comes to instilling leadership and work ethic in our youth. CareerTech student organizations across the board add the workplace elements that help to make students successful. These programs are vital to training future generations.”
CareerTech’s skills gap solutions also help attract new businesses to the state and help existing businesses expand. In 2018 the CareerTech System served more than 6,900 companies, helping their employees gain new skills and adding new jobs to the Oklahoma economy.
“Solving the skills gap is at the forefront of an economic transformation pushing our state forward. CareerTech and their capabilities in upskilling workers, customizing training for industry and growing a pipeline of skilled workers is essential to keeping Oklahoma on the map for expanding and attracting companies to the state,” said David Stewart, chief administrative officer for MidAmerica Industrial Park and member of the State Board of Career and Technology Education.
Michael Culwell, campus director in Poteau at Kiamichi Technology Centers and president of the Oklahoma Association for Career and Technology Education, said, “Programs like welding technology, which give our students a high-quality wage for construction and manufacturing jobs that are in high demand in our area, should be expanded. The value of these programs and other CareerTech industry training programs are a priority to keeping Oklahoma’s future bright.”
Other items in the 2020 agenda include enriching work-based learning experiences, expanding professional development for CareerTech professionals and deploying new technology for career awareness. For an itemized list of all FY20 funding requests view the business plan and annual report for FY18 details.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA’S CAREERTECH SYSTEM
Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Education System is focused on developing a world-class workforce. This comprehensive system delivers educational experiences through 393 K-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 Skills Centers sites and 31 adult basic education providers and to more than 6,900 businesses. CareerTech’s mission is clear: to improve Oklahoma’s economy by providing individuals with the training and skills necessary to be successful in the workplace and by providing companies with the required workforce to compete globally. We are faced with a skills gap, and CareerTech has a solution.
Each year, thousands of Oklahomans reap the benefits provided by Career and Technology Education. CareerTech Champions tell the story of how individuals apply learning to become successful employees, entrepreneurs and leaders in business organizations.
Justine Talmadge – Adult Basic Education, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center
THEN: A recovering addict who started using drugs in seventh grade. Justine Talmadge was a mother of three who said she had no hopes, dreams or passions when she dropped out of high school. After spending six months in rehab, Justine said, she was clean and motivated. Her goal was to get her high school diploma and find a career.
“I didn’t want to be a nobody,” Justine said. “I wanted to prove I wasn’t stupid.”
She had tried to get her equivalency diploma three times before. She then enrolled in the adult basic education program at Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. Justine said ABE instructor Brad Shaw and the Caddo Kiowa staff helped her by
Offering a scholarship that paid for her high school equivalency exam.
Helping her discover her passion for welding, through a job fair on campus.
Working with her to pass the high school equivalency exam that led to her diploma.
“It took me 15 years to figure out what I am good at,” Justine said, “and I am good at welding.”
NOW: Justine is well on her way to becoming a welder. She is halfway through her first year in the welding and metal fabrication program at Caddo Kiowa. She said welding instructors Keith Theesen and his assistant Shane Wilson played a major role in her success.
“Justine is that student who comes into your classroom and reminds you why you do what you do.”