Legislature Approves $11.2 Million to Expand CareerTech Programs

The Oklahoma Legislature recently appropriated $11.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to establish and expand vital Oklahoma CareerTech workforce development programs.

The Legislature appropriated $5 million to CareerTech to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers. The program will help create a workforce to expand broadband connectivity in underserved areas.

“There is a need for broadband installation in Oklahoma,” said Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim director. “Creating this program shows CareerTech’s ability to be agile with industry as needs arise. We work with industry to create the workforce to fill Oklahoma’s needs.”

About 15 technology centers have expressed interest in becoming broadband training sites, she said. The ARPA money will be used for equipment to train students to lay fiber underground, to hang it on poles and to build towers for the last mile connections.

Oklahoma CareerTech will train workers in installation, maintenance and customer service, Denney said.

CareerTech also received $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. Oklahoma CareerTech already offers truck driver training through Central Technology Center and other tech centers that have partnered with Central Tech. The $6.2 million will be used to create regional programs that will supplement the statewide program, Denney said.

“We’ve been asked to expand because the statewide program has a six-month waiting list,” she explained.

The regional programs — at Kiamichi, Northeast, Tulsa and Caddo Kiowa tech centers — will allow students to stay closer to home when they undergo training.

The money will be used to build classrooms, expand driving ranges and buy trucks and simulators, Denney said.

Denney said the need is great for both broadband expansion and truck drivers in Oklahoma.

“These funds will allow Oklahoma CareerTech to continue to help Oklahomans learn the skills they need while also continuing to contribute to the state’s economic development,” she said.

The bill has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his signature.

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