For more than 100 years, Oklahoma CareerTech has been connecting students and businesses with training opportunities that help Oklahomans find rewarding careers and support Oklahoma industries. Our goal is to develop a world-class workforce for Oklahoma employers and prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life.
THEN: As early as high school, he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. Riley Sutton enrolled in Meridian Technology Center’s pre-engineering program and built his first robot when he was a high school junior. He said pre-engineering and the FIRST Robotics competition taught him how to work as part of an engineering team.
“Everyone had an opportunity to provide input on the design,” Sutton said. “And we worked together to finalize the design and then assemble the robot.”
Sutton said the program offered more in-depth, hands-on engineering instruction than he would have received in a traditional high school setting. He said the program provided him
The ability to take difficult classes, such as chemistry, physics and calculus, that prepared him for his college engineering courses.
A chance to learn about the many career paths in engineering.
An understanding of the importance of obtaining professional certifications.
“Since graduating college, I have received the certified fire protection specialist certification from the National Fire Protection Association and have been designated as a professional member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers,” he said. “I am also working on achieving the certified safety professional and on becoming a licensed professional engineer.”
Sutton said Meridian Tech’s pre-engineering program has made him a better engineer and a better professional, which has led to job opportunities and advancements.
NOW: A fire protection engineer and deputy fire marshal at a decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the U.S. government. Sutton maintains the infrastructure for the site and is responsible for ensuring compliance with fire protection program requirements and minimizing the risk of fire.
“I review lots of engineering designs as part of a larger design team that must work together effectively in order to achieve the desired result,” Sutton said. “The pre-engineering program is the foundation upon which my engineering career was built.”
“Without the pre-engineering program, I would not have been nearly as prepared for my engineering degree program at Oklahoma State University.”
Riley Sutton, fire protection engineer and deputy fire marshal
Evan Retherford – Central Technology Center and SkillsUSA
State champion welder graduates high school with honors – AND a job offer.
THEN: He didn’t like it when his Ripley High School friends teased him about not knowing how to do metal work. It wasn’t that Evan Retherford couldn’t weld, it was simply a lack of training.
Before he signed up for an introduction to welding class, Retherford thought he wanted to be a truck driver. But after he finished the class, which was part of his agricultural education curriculum, he realized he enjoyed welding enough to enroll in a two-year welding program at Central Technology Center.
At Central Tech, he learned to weld, but he also
Received numerous certifications, including OSHA 10, the Platinum level in the WorkKeys test, forklift certification, GMAW (gas metal arc welding), FCAW (flux-cored arc welding), SMAW (shielded metal arc welding), GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding), PAC (plasma arc welding), CAC (carbon arc cutting) and fire extinguisher.
Received the National Technical Honor Society award for having all A’s in his Central Tech classes as well as at least 97% attendance and an A/B grade point average at Ripley High.
Developed important leadership skills.
Improved his worth ethic.
Placed first in the state in the welding sculpture event.
Retherford was Class of 2021 valedictorian at Ripley, and he was offered a full-time welding job before he graduated in May.
“Other people go to college, spend a lot of money and may not receive a good paying job at the end of it,” he said. “I wanted to prove you can make a lot of money working a trade.”
NOW: A welder at Ditch Witch in Perry, making $48,000 plus benefits, right out of high school. At that salary, it would appear that Retherford has proved his point.
Maile represented the Oklahoma CareerTech System on the board since 2007. The board made a presentation to him at its meeting Tuesday.
“Serving on the curriculum review board has been an honor for me. Several family members have served in law enforcement, including a sister who is a CLEET academy graduate,” said Maile, manager of Oklahoma CareerTech’s Resource Center for CareerTech Advancement. “Offering advice to CLEET on their curriculum made me feel that I was contributing to the larger mission of the law enforcement community.”
CLEET’s curriculum review board establishes curriculum for all CLEET academies and training courses. Members of the board come from law enforcement, higher education and Oklahoma CareerTech.
Oklahoma CareerTech and CLEET began their partnership in 1987 when the Oklahoma State Department of Vocational and Technical Education (now Oklahoma CareerTech) developed curriculum to train security guards and private investigators.
That was also when Maile began his work with CLEET.
“I was a new technical writer at the state agency in Stillwater at that time and was assigned the task of writing the first editions of the curriculum with CLEET,” he said.
As a state authority on law enforcement training, CLEET set the direction for the curriculum with input from industry advisory committees, Maile said. Oklahoma CareerTech handled the writing, editing and printing. The draft curriculum was field-tested in CareerTech classes, and teachers from around the state attended workshops to learn how to deliver it. A free online train-the-trainer course eventually took the place of in-person workshops.
The CareerTech Testing Center also offers CLEET certification testing for private security and bail enforcement and processes the results and administers the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam, which individuals take before entering basic law enforcement and reserve basic law enforcement academies.
Oklahoma CareerTech’s partnership with CLEET offers opportunities to increase Oklahoma’s workforce in law enforcement, criminal justice and security careers, said Marcie Mack, CareerTech state director.
“Technology centers statewide have experienced significant demand for programs in these pathways in recent years,” she said. “Basic peace officer certification is available at four technology centers, and there are 19 criminal justice programs across the state. CLEET and CareerTech are working together to offer additional training throughout the 29 technology center districts. This includes training for dispatch, jailer and other career pathways.”
Mack nominated Marshall McDonald of Central Technology Center in Drumright to take Maile’s spot on the curriculum review board.
Cody McCuistion – Meridian Technology Center and BPA
Guthrie High School student said MTC technology program was “too cool to pass up.”
THEN: A lover of technology, long before high school. When Cody McCuistion heard he could spend half of each day at Meridian Technology Center learning more about what he already enjoyed in his spare time, it was an easy decision for the Guthrie High School student. But then, McCuistion discovered he was also going to earn 68 hours of college credit — while he was still in high school!
He enrolled in Meridian Tech’s network engineering program and joined Business Professionals of America, the CareerTech student organization affiliated with business, marketing and information technology education. McCuistion said he loved BPA and enjoyed competing at the state and national level.
He said the two-year program at Meridian Tech fast-tracked him to receive industry certifications, knowledge and experience. McCuistion
Received CompTIA A+ certification, Microsoft Server certifications and Cisco network training.
Graduated with a high school diploma and essentially a two-year associate degree in the same year, while only paying $5 per credit hour.
Gained confidence in his abilities through BPA.
“The program led to a jump-start in my career path,” he said.
Although technology has advanced since McCuistion was in school, he said he uses a variation of those network engineering skills every day.
NOW: A solution architect for Hitachi Vantara. McCuistion sets up and delivers proofs of concept and product demonstrations for Hitachi Vantara’s Unified Compute Platform suite of enterprise products.
He has designed and built various server deployments and worked in mission-critical scenarios to restore failed services or resolve performance, reliability or security issues. McCuistion also has experience in highly secure environments tied to the Department of Defense, identifying security vulnerabilities in deployments and engineering ways to close those holes.
McCuistion said CareerTech’s concurrent enrollment options offer students the opportunity to learn skills that apply immediately to their future success. He urged today’s young people to avoid accruing debt for education expenses whenever possible.
“Seek out training in skills that can generate an income stream now and use that income to pay for further education, if that’s wanted or needed down the road,” he said.
“CareerTech offers much-needed skills for today’s workforce. Don’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of it!”
Oklahoma’s Career and Technology Education System is focused on developing a world-class workforce. This comprehensive system delivers educational experiences through 394 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 Skills Centers sites and 32 adult basic education providers and to more than 6,900 businesses.
“Oklahoma CareerTech partners with business and educational institutions to enhance career awareness, increase educational attainment and meet the needs of our state,” said Marcie Mack, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education state director. “CareerTech is an integral part of Oklahoma’s economy.”
The Oklahoma CareerTech System is celebrating CareerTech Education Month in February. Gov. Kevin Stitt recently issued a proclamation declaring this month as Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month in Oklahoma.
Stitt has called Oklahoma CareerTech “a system that has been nimble and robust in helping us train the workforce.”
The CareerTech System delivers educational experiences through a network of 394 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 16 skills center sites in correctional facilities and 32 adult basic education providers. In fiscal year 2019, CareerTech’s enrollments totaled more than 550,000, and CareerTech System graduates added more than $3.5 billion to Oklahoma’s economy.
The 29 technology center districts have 58 campuses that offer career training to high school and adult students, along with training and assistance for Oklahoma’s businesses and industries.
High school students can attend the technology centers in their districts for free, learning skills that will help them land good jobs after school and also position them to continue their education after graduation. Certifications earned through CareerTech courses give students entrance into higher-paying careers, which can also help them pursue higher education without incurring excessive debt.
Adult students at technology centers can learn new skills and earn certificates and credentials to get jobs, change careers or advance in their current careers. In FY18, CareerTech students earned 19,566 industry-endorsed certificates, showing that they have the skills Oklahoma’s industries need.
In Oklahoma’s comprehensive school districts, 35 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 82,000 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.
In addition, 3,356 CareerTech students in comprehensive schools and technology centers were honored for their work be achieving membership in the National Technical Honor Society.
In 2019, CareerTech also expanded OK Career Guide, its statewide career development education system, to include Galaxy, which introduces career awareness to pre-K through fifth grade students.
Oklahoma CareerTech helps provide qualified employees for the state’s businesses and industries by preparing state residents for successful careers, but it also provides direct services business and industry.
CareerTech’s Business and Industry Services Division helped more than 8,000 companies increase their profitability in FY19 with increased sales, higher productivity, reduced costs and expanded operations and helped companies move to and start in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,527 new jobs. Also, the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network helped state companies secure more than $550 million in contracts.
CareerTech also has a presence in state correctional facilities through a partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Instructors in the Skills Centers School System teach inmates and juvenile offenders work and life skills that help keep them in the workforce and out of the corrections system after their release. In FY19, more than 2,000 people were enrolled in skills centers, and positive placement — employment, continuing education or military — was 89.21 percent.
The CareerTech System also helps those who dropped out of high school earn diplomas and gain skills to enter the workforce through the dropout recovery program. In FY19, 367 people earned a high school diploma through the program.
ODCTE also oversees Oklahoma’s adult basic education program, which includes 32 providers offering high school equivalency programs and tests along with English literacy and civics courses at 111 sites. In FY19, 12,647 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, 394 comprehensive school districts, 16 skills centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 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.
High Plains Technology Center, Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Guymon Public Schools received a federal $1.5 million grant for a joint welding technology training center in Guymon.
The three educational entities recently broke ground on the center in the Guymon Industrial Park. Students in the center will be able to earn welding certificates from High Plains while also taking academic classes at Panhandle State toward associate or bachelor’s degrees.
Red River Technology Center is work with the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery proponent of Fort Sill in Lawton on a new, enhanced electronics technology certification training initiative.
The initiative, referred to as the credentialing program, is designed for tactical and maintenance warrant officers associated with the Patriot missile defense system.
Selected warrant officers attend a rigorous 60-hour, two-week electronics technology certification training program to learn the technical knowledge required to pass the DC and AC electronics circuit analysis and troubleshooting exams as outlined by the International Society of Certified Electronics Technicians and the Electronics System Association.
“Our soldiers have an incredible opportunity, especially with the technical aspect of their jobs, to get industry/nationwide credentialing,” said Jennifer Smith, lead development and education analyst for the Air Defense Artillery Commandant. “We are very excited about the partnership with the Red River Technology Center, and we are going to continue to grow it.”
The robust curriculum and the purposely limited time allowed to complete the assigned duties and tasks associated with the successful certification process, provide a unique experience for the officers.
All of the attending warrant officers successfully fulfilling the requirements of the credentialing program receive their independent industry certification documents and special recognition during their tactical training graduation ceremony at Fort Sill.
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.