Category Archives: Economic Development

Oklahoma CareerTech Continues Growth

The Oklahoma CareerTech System continues to grow as it offers educational programs to Oklahomans of all ages.

The 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.

“We strive every day to provide students with skills demanded by the labor market in Oklahoma,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “Bringing innovation to Oklahoma education is core to Oklahoma CareerTech’s mission to help students explore their interests and businesses meet their workforce needs.”

In Oklahoma, enrollment in CareerTech programs is up across the board, and memberships in CareerTech student organizations such as FFA and HOSA rose 20% in FY 2022 to 95,390 members. The increase in enrollments and CTSO memberships, Haken said, reflect a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curricula that emphasize career readiness.

“CareerTech programs and student organizations are designed to simultaneously provide students skills demanded in the labor market while preparing them for postsecondary degrees,” Haken said. “In addition to specific career-oriented classes, students are offered opportunities that include internships, apprenticeships and in-school programs aimed at fostering work readiness.”

Oklahoma CareerTech achievements in the past year include being named a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence by the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program in May. Participation in the Oklahoma CyberPatriot program has more than doubled under CareerTech’s leadership.

CareerTech began a partnership with Express Employment Professionals and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to create more work-based learning opportunities for students. Students in the program are employed by Express and serve as contract employees for worksite employers, reducing liability for employers and opening more opportunities for students.

CareerTech also launched Get Skilled Now, an online platform that allows students and employers to find each other for work-based learning opportunities.

Also in the past year, Oklahoma CareerTech received $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand programs to address the state’s nursing workforce shortage, $5 million to create a program to train broadband infrastructure installation workers and $6.2 million to expand its truck driver training program. CareerTech awarded $4.5 million to schools, technology centers and educators in lottery grants and scholarships.

CareerTech serves nearly half a million students through a network of 391 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. CareerTech also serves Oklahomans through its business and industry programs.

Enrollment in the 29 technology center districts was 298,675 in FY 2022. Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, with 83,580 students in ninth through 12th grades enrolled in CareerTech classes.

In FY 2022, more than 95,000 students participated in CareerTech’s seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, DECA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA and Technology Student Association.

More than 8,900 people enrolled in adult education and family literacy classes offered by 32 providers around Oklahoma; the courses help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

The Skills Centers School System enrolled 1,045 adult and juvenile offenders in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

In addition to teaching individuals through technology centers, skills centers, PK-12 schools and adult education and family literacy programs, Oklahoma CareerTech also provides customized training and other services to companies in the state to help them increase profitability.

In FY 2022, CareerTech served 6,671 companies through entrepreneurial development, firefighter training, customized industry, safety training, adult and career development, training for industry and OkAPEX Accelerators. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkAPEX helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.

Lee Denney Appointed Interim Chief of Staff of Oklahoma CareerTech

The Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education on Thursday approved the appointment of Lee Denney as the interim chief of staff of Oklahoma CareerTech.

Denney served as the Oklahoma CareerTech interim state director from February 2022 until January 2023, when Brent Haken took the reins as state director. She will serve as interim chief of staff until someone is hired to fill that position, which has been vacant since July.

“I want to thank Lee Denney for her strong, charismatic leadership during this time of transition at Oklahoma CareerTech,” Haken said. “Her efforts as interim director have strengthened CareerTech education in Oklahoma, and we are grateful that she will continue her work to support CareerTech as interim chief of staff.”

Denney, a resident of Cushing, served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2016, representing District 33. She served on various committees, including appropriations and budget; higher education career technology; energy; economic development and tourism; arts and culture, as chairman; and banking, as vice chairman. She also served as chairman of the appropriations and budget subcommittee on common education.

After leaving the House, Denney served as department head of the veterinary technology program at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City in 2016-17 and then as Oklahoma state director for rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2017 to 2021.

“I am so grateful to the leaders and staff of Oklahoma CareerTech for their tremendous support in managing and maintaining the many CareerTech programs and services offered to Oklahoma students and businesses,” Denney said. “CareerTech is vital to workforce development in the state, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders in advancing its mission as interim chief of staff.”

Denney earned both a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Oklahoma State University.

In addition to her work as a veterinarian, Denney worked as a recruitment coordinator for the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and taught anatomy and physiology at Central Technology Center in Drumright.

Denney serves on the boards of directors of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals, the Oklahoma Public Resource Center, Friends for Folks, the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women and Payne County Youth Services.

About Oklahoma CareerTech

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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.

Ninth CareerTech State Director Begins Official Duties

Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Brent Haken began official duties today.

Haken was named to the position in November by the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education. He is the ninth director in ODCTE’s history.

“I am honored to begin serving the state of Oklahoma in meeting the educational, training and workforce development needs of our state,” Haken said. “Oklahoma has the nation’s premier system for career and technical education due to a foundation laid by passionate and dedicated Oklahomans. As an educator and a product of the Oklahoma CareerTech System, I understand the opportunity we have in unlocking the state’s potential for meeting the workforce needs of Oklahoma businesses and providing pathways to rewarding careers for Oklahoma students. Empowering people through education moves Oklahoma forward.”

Lee Denney, who has been serving as the CareerTech interim state director since February 2022, will remain at Oklahoma CareerTech as interim chief of staff.

“Brent Haken is a leader with vision and innovative ideas,” Denney said. “He will be able to lead Oklahoma CareerTech forward as we continue to provide skilled workers for Oklahoma industries.”

Haken comes to Oklahoma CareerTech from Morrison Public Schools, where he served as superintendent since 2019.

He began his educational career teaching agricultural education in Wellston and Stillwater before moving to Morrison, where he became elementary assistant principal and special education director in July 2015 and high school principal in July 2016. He also served as testing coordinator.

Haken received the 2022 Superintendents Chairman’s Award from the Oklahoma Youth Expo and was the Oklahoma Association of Superintendents District 4 Superintendent of the Year for 2022. He is a member of the Oklahoma State Professional Education Council and the Cooperative Council for Secondary Administrators.

He has been a member of the Oklahoma Career Technology Master Teacher Committee, the National Association of Agricultural Educators and the Association of Career Technical Educators and served on the board and as vice president of the Oklahoma Agricultural Education Teachers Association.

Haken earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Central Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University.

About Oklahoma CareerTech

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 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 15 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy 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.

CareerTech Conversations Focuses on FFA

CareerTech Conversations recently sat down with Scott Nemecek, state program administrator for FFA and agricultural education, who shared Oklahoma students’ recent accolades from the national FFA convention.

He also discussed the impact of agriculture on Oklahoma’s economy and how ag educators are preparing students for success in industry and daily life.

See the video on Oklahoma CareerTech’s YouTube channel and learn more about agricultural education on the Oklahoma CareerTech website.

CareerTech Champions

T.H. Rogers Lumber Company

Lumber company builds its business with CareerTech guidance

The T.H. Rogers Lumber Company has been in business for more than 100 years, and the employee-owned small business is still growing, thanks to help from OkPTAC, CareerTech’s procurement technical assistance center.

The company supplies building materials to professional builders, contractors, remodelers and homeowners. Government jobs are an important part of its revenue stream, and OkPTAC has helped them with government contracting since 2018.

Ron DeGiacomo (L) and Scott Logan (R)

In the early stages of this partnership, Ron DeGiacomo, the OkPTAC coordinator at Kiamichi Technology Centers, helped register T.H. Rogers as a federal contractor and tailored a profile to highlight the company’s capability and the products it sells. This profile is used to match the client with bid opportunities on buying agency bid sites.

“We had bid for local government jobs,” said Iva Due, district manager for T.H. Rogers, “but we wanted to grow our share of the market in state and federal opportunities.”

That’s where DeGiacomo came in.

“Anytime there is a project out there that we are a good fit for, Ron lets us know,” said Due. “He is always looking for any opportunity to help our business and community grow.” 

Since 2019, T.H. Rogers has won various contracts with federal agencies totaling more than $500,000 in award dollars. 

The partnership between Kiamichi Tech and T.H. Rogers Lumber Company has been beneficial to both organizations and to the community. Scott Logan, outside sales and assistant manager, serves on Kiamichi Tech’s Business and Education Council, which connects students and jobs and matches training to workforce needs. T.H. Rogers participates in job fairs and has hired students who have completed training at Kiamichi Tech.

Oklahoma CareerTech Enrollment Increases

Oklahoma CareerTech’s enrollment in fiscal year 2022 rose to 446,940 students — from 426,125 in FY 2021 — and was up in each of the state agency’s delivery arms.

Positive placement in FY 2022 was 91%, which means that almost all CareerTech graduates found employment, entered the military or continued their education.

“In addition to enrollment increases across the board, membership in CareerTech student organizations rose significantly in fiscal 2022,” said CareerTech Interim State Director Lee Denney. “The uptick in enrollment reflects a growing realization of the value of a CareerTech education and the need for curriculums that emphasize career readiness.”

CareerTech serves the nearly half a million students through a network of 391 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. CareerTech also serves Oklahomans through its business and industry programs.

Enrollment in the 29 technology center districts was 298,675 in FY 2022, up from 295,193 in FY 2021.

Enrollment in CareerTech courses in PK-12 schools totaled 127,875 in FY 2022, up from 121,735 in FY 2021. That number equals 31% of students in fifth through 12th grades. In ninth through 12th grades, 42% of students — 83,580 — were enrolled in CareerTech classes in FY 2022.

Participation in CareerTech student organizations rose 20% during FY 2022, to 95,390 from 79,356 in FY 2021. CareerTech has seven co-curricular CTSOs: Business Professionals of America, 5,686 members in FY 2022; DECA, 1,520; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, 14,752; FFA, 27,892; HOSA, 6,434; SkillsUSA, 14,214; and Technology Student Association, 24,892.

Enrollment in adult education and family literacy grew from 8,304 in FY 2021 to 8,925 in FY 2022. Oklahoma CareerTech assumed responsibility for adult education and family literacy in 2014. The 32 providers around Oklahoma help adults become literate, earn their high school equivalencies and obtain the skills necessary for employment.

Enrollment in the Skills Centers School System grew from 893 in FY 2021 to 1,045 in FY 2022, and more than 95% of those who completed training found jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.64.

CareerTech’s skills centers specialize in the delivery of career and technology education to inmates under the supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and to juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs.

“Offenders who find employment are less likely to return to crime,” Denney said.

In addition to teaching individuals through technology centers, skills centers, PK-12 schools and adult education and family literacy programs, Oklahoma CareerTech also provides customized training and other services to companies in the state to help them increase profitability.

In FY 2022, CareerTech served 6,671 companies through entrepreneurial development, firefighter training, customized industry, safety training, adult and career development, training for industry and the Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center. The TIP program helped companies locate in Oklahoma and provided training for 2,941 new jobs, and OkPTAC helped state companies secure 1,775 federal, state, local and tribal government contracts valued at $392,442,455.

American Airlines Needs You in Oklahoma

Here in Oklahoma, the aerospace industry is one of the largest and fastest growing. When you look in the sky, you will likely see an airplane carrying hundreds of people. Some of those planes may belong to American Airlines. You could one day work on those American Airlines planes right here in Oklahoma!

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.

Oklahoma Celebrates Careers in Energy Week

Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is October 17-21

The third annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week is scheduled for Oct. 17-21. Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is celebrating the week by promoting the benefits of pursuing careers in the industry. Energy is the highest-paying industry in the state, with an average salary of more than $109,000 annually and employing more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind power capacity, sixth for solar potential and third in natural gas production and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.

closing the talent gap in oklahomas energy industry

“Oklahoma’s all-of-the-above energy strategy makes us a national leader in oil, natural gas and wind production, which leads to a wide range of career opportunities for Oklahomans who are preparing to enter the job market,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “During Careers in Energy Week, we celebrate those who work behind the scenes in Oklahoma’s energy industry and recognize all they do to keep our lights on, our homes comfortable, our cars running and our economy growing.”

OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025.

“There are so many opportunities to work and serve our state through different energy services including utilities, renewable energy, oil and gas and more. We want to always be able to introduce our students to these opportunities in our community, and this collaboration is a great way to spur these conversations,” said Lee Denney, interim state director of Oklahoma CareerTech. “The partnership between the energy industry and CareerTech helps us provide meaningful and tailored energy education programs to more Oklahomans, increasing their chances of securing a rewarding career and improving their earning potential.”

In addition to industry leaders, the consortium includes leaders from Oklahoma CareerTech, K-12 education, higher education and government and is focused on creating a pipeline of talented, diverse individuals to meet future needs within the state’s energy sector.

Getting young Oklahomans excited about careers in energy is a top priority of the consortium, as developing future engineers, technicians, chemists, construction managers and many other important positions are key to sustaining the industry’s momentum.

“In Oklahoma, the energy industry plays a critical role in everyday life, and we want all Oklahomans, particularly young people, to understand the incredible career opportunities in the industry,” said Sean Trauschke, chairman, president and CEO of OGE Energy Corp. “The partnership between the industry, educators and government is vital to inspiring our future workforce to power the state through a wide variety of energy-related occupations.”

“The energy industry is always evolving, and there’s a continual need for innovative skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with the state so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Leigh Anne Strahler. “We rely on highly skilled workers to serve our customers and power a brighter future for all Oklahomans. From lineworkers, power plant operators and electricians to engineers, accountants and analysts – there’s a place for everyone in the energy industry.”

The OEWC cites the impending workforce shortage as a major driver for its formation. STEM curriculum plays a pivotal role in energy occupations, and many schools are implementing more programs as a pipeline for similar jobs. STEM education opens doors to many different industries and provides tools and skills for future generations to apply to occupations like energy.

“At the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, we strive to connect industry and education across the state to secure and embrace the skill needs of our future workforce,” said Don Morris, executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. “Fostering these collaborations across industries provides more opportunities for meaningful occupations for more Oklahomans. This also helps Oklahoma retain talent and passion to drive success today and tomorrow in the energy sector.”

For more information about careers in energy and the Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium, visit oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

About Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium

Oklahoma Energy Workforce Consortium is a partnership among Oklahoma energy companies and organizations with a mission to raise awareness about the energy industry and career pathways available to Oklahoma students. The consortium represents energy industry, education, government and community leaders united to build a talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s energy sector. The full list of consortium members can be viewed at oklahoma.getintoenergy.com.

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.

ICBS Show to Include Cybersecurity Speaker

The ICBS Show will feature a keynote speech about cybersecurity when it returns to Norman in August.

The event, which offers assistance to businesses wanting to obtain contracts with federal, state and local governments, will be Aug. 15-18 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Norman. It will open with a business networking event the first evening and end with a virtual matchmaking session on Aug. 18.

Stacy Bostjanick of the U.S. Department of Defense will present the keynote speech Aug. 16. She is a member of the senior executive service and serves as the chief of implementation and policy, deputy chief information officer for cybersecurity, Office of the Chief Information Officer and will speak about the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program.

Other speakers at the ICBS Show will include Lee Denney, Oklahoma CareerTech interim state director; Anna Urman of the U.S. Department of State; Mershelle Davis of Aventiv Technologies; and Will Lowe, speaker of the Muscogee (Creek) National Council. Participants will also hear from representatives of Koprince McCall Pottroff; Schooner and Moriarty; Oklahoma PTAC; the Tribal Government Institute; and Lockheed Martin.

The event will feature a day of informational briefings and an afternoon of one-on-one meetings between businesses and government agencies or prime contractors. The last day will be a virtual matchmaking day.

The ICBS Show is produced by Oklahoma’s two procurement technical assistance programs, Oklahoma PTAC and the Tribal Government Institute. Both PTACs are supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. OkPTAC is a program of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

PTACs help businesses find, compete on and perform work for federal, state and local government agencies. The annual ICBS Show is both an outreach for new clients and a training and networking opportunity for existing clients.

Sponsors are Lockheed Martin; Delaware Nation Industries and Delaware Nation Investments; Aventiv; A1 Staffing and Recruitment Agency; and Sustainment Technologies Inc. Sponsorship opportunities are still available, said Carter Merkle, OkPTAC manager. Those interested can call 405-743-5571 or email okptac@careertech.ok.gov.

Admission to the ICBS Show is $225 until July 28, when the cost will increase to $250. For more information or to register visit www.icbsshow.com.

About Oklahoma CareerTech

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 59 campuses, 394 PK-12 school districts, 14 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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