Category Archives: Skills Centers

Welcome to CareerTech

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.

  • 29 tech centers operating on 59 campuses 
  • 394 PK-12 school districts 
  • 13 Skills Centers campuses 
  • 31 Adult Basic Education providers at 116 sites
  • 426,00 total CareerTech enrollments in FY21
  • 5,670 companies served by CareerTech in FY21

CareerTech Awarded Grant for New Skills Center at Correctional Facility in Vinita

Oklahoma CareerTech will open a new skills center in Vinita in 2022.

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, in partnership with the Department of Corrections, received a Second Chance Grant for $874,000 to open the skills center at the Northeast Oklahoma Community Corrections Center.

“The CareerTech Skills Centers School System offers individuals in Oklahoma correctional centers the opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to make a successful transition to the workplace upon their release,” said CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “We are excited to extend the system to another location, giving even more people the opportunity to transition to a successful life.”

CareerTech’s skills centers specialize in delivering career and technology education to inmates under the supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and juveniles under the supervision of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs. The center at NOCCC will be the 14th skills center location.

“Technical training while incarcerated serves to ensure the individual is employable as they return to society, which contributes to reducing recidivism,” said Clint Castleberry, administrator of programs for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. “The agency is excited for the opportunity to grow its long-standing partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education through this new grant.”

The grant is part of the Second Chance Act, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. Oklahoma CareerTech applied for the grant to help fund a requested program at NOCCC.

The skills center will feature training in truck driving; welding; and transportation, distribution and logistics. Students will also be able to receive certified production technician training, which will teach them how to repair equipment used in warehouses; OSHA certification training; and life skills training, which will help them learn interview and resume skills.

In addition to learning the skills, students will have the opportunity to earn certifications that will help them obtain employment. The Skills Centers School System also provides all of its students an employment transition service to help them find, obtain and keep jobs.

CareerTech applied for the grant in July and received notice of its award in December. The skills center should open by summer of 2022, but the truck driver training program could open sooner, said Justin Lockwood, ODCTE deputy state director. Northeast Technology Center will provide space and instructors for truck driver training, and ODCTE will be hiring instructors for the other programs, he said.

CareerTech Champions

Chantel Owens – Eddie Warrior Skills Center

Inmate had employment lined up before release.

Then: A homeless mother who lost custody of her daughter and spiraled out of control. Before getting involved in drugs, Leta “Chantel” Owens had completed several health care training programs, including medication assistant, phlebotomy, EKG and X-ray technician. But after losing her daughter, Owens said, she stopped caring about anything. She gave in to her drug addiction and was eventually incarcerated for drug-related crimes.

A clerk at Eddie Warrior Skills Center recruited Owens for a different kind of CareerTech training. Owens said she began to change her way of thinking. She became a clerk and then enrolled in the transportation, distribution and logistics program, where she

  • Learned to communicate more effectively.
  • Developed computer skills.
  • Received job search assistance.
  • Received certifications in manufacturing, tools, safety and logistics.

“They worked with nonprofit organizations to find clothing for me,” Owens said. “They set me up with a mentor, told me about job openings and taught me interviewing skills. It boosted my confidence and pushed me forward.”

Owens said she also learned how to teach. After she completed the Skills Centers program, she became an instructor, teaching other inmates skills such as how to use a computer and operate a forklift.

Her instructor, Steve Evans, said she is the only student he has worked with who moved from clerk to student to instructor, setting the bar for herself and others,.

“If there ever was a way to model change and set the stage for success, Chantel mastered it,” Evans said. “It’s been my honor to teach and work side by side with Chantel, supporting her now and in the future as she does great things.”

Now: Owens is an assembly worker at Pregis IntelliPack in Tulsa. She was offered the job prior to being released from prison.

“I was able to share what I learned to help better the lives of other people.”

Chantel Owens, assembly worker

Oklahoma CareerTech Celebrating Skills Centers’ 50th Anniversary

Gov. Kevin Stitt has proclaimed November as Oklahoma CareerTech Skills Centers Month.

The CareerTech Skills Centers School System specializes 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.

It got its start in February 1971 as the inmate training division of the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education, now the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. We are proud to help these individuals learn the skills they need to transition to jobs and life outside prison.

Learn more about the system in a video, “Life Beyond Bars,” and in a column by State Director Marcie Mack in the Journal Record.

CareerTech Essential to Meet Workforce Needs

A qualified workforce is critical to the state’s economic well-being and will be vital to its recovery following the pandemic. Oklahoma CareerTech, which has long been a major component of Oklahoma’s economic engine, will play a starring role in this recovery.

Through a network of 399 PK-12 school districts, 29 technology center districts, 13 skills center sites and 32 adult basic education providers, the strengths of Oklahoma’s CareerTech System include accessibility and flexibility.

Through partnerships with business and industry, Oklahoma CareerTech has responded quickly to the state’s immediate workforce needs by providing customized career training in a wide range of industries, including health care, agriculture, aerospace and energy.

Read more in CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack’s guest column in The Journal Record.

CareerTech Champions

Nicholas Mullaney – Granite Skills Centers

Ex-offender credits welding instructor for sparking his interest in learning.

Then: An addict, incarcerated for dealing drugs. Nicholas Mullaney served his time and was released from prison three years ago, taking with him much more than his freedom. Mullaney completed the metal manufacturing/welding program at Granite Skills Center and said his instructor, Martin “Chipper” Nickell, taught him the skills he would need to land a decent paying job after his release.

“He was an amazing instructor with a great heart,” Mullaney said. “I was lucky to have had the opportunity to have him as my instructor before his passing.”

At Granite Skills Center, Mullaney

  • Learned how to weld. He said he had never touched welding equipment before entering the program.
  • Gained self-confidence, knowing he would be able to land a good-paying job with his new skills.
  • Became motivated to continue learning.

“After realizing I could absorb so much knowledge,” Mullaney said, “it sparked my interest to expand my knowledge even more.”

Mullaney is working on a college degree in marketing and professional sales and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Hired as a welding fabricator at Metro Sign Corporation, Mullaney was later moved to the install team. He was recently honored with the company’s Employee Spotlight, and has received several pay increases since he started in 2018, as well as Christmas bonuses.  

Now: He has paid health benefits at Metro Sign, and a company phone. Mullaney has his CDL permit, and when he completes the CDL test, he will receive another pay raise.

Mullaney rents a home and owns two vehicles, and he and his fiancé are expecting a baby boy this spring.

“My life has changed tremendously since this program. CareerTech gave me a skill I can take with me the rest of my life; no matter what happens in my future, that skill will always be there.”

Nicholas Mullaney, welding fabricator

Female inmates graduate from truck driver training class

Four Oklahoma women are blazing new trails in big rigs.

The women are graduates of the first truck driver training class for incarcerated women. The program is a partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

“This program and others like it align with our mission to help offenders transition successfully from the correctional system to the workplace,” said Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Marcie Mack. “We’re very proud of each of the ladies, who have learned the skills they need for prosperous employment that will make a positive impact on their lives and the state’s economy.”

Two of the women, all of whom came from the Oklahoma City Community Corrections Center, have been released from DOC custody and hired by an Oklahoma City-based over-the-road trucking company.

During an eight-week finishing program with the company, the two women will drive all over the country with a trainer, gaining experience as drivers. Once they complete their training period, the two women will be given their own trucks and hired as full-time drivers.

The other two women are scheduled for release later this summer and plan to interview with the same industry partner.

The women started their training class in March and ended it earlier this month. They completed an intensive four-week program that included both classroom time and driving time. Their classes were conducted at Central Technology Center’s satellite site in El Reno.

The program in which they studied started as a pilot project in summer 2019 with men who were on probation; the program transitioned to incarcerated individuals in 2020. Two classes of men from Union City Community Corrections have completed the program, but this is the first class of women.

“They aren’t just giving us a job, they are giving us a whole new life,” Joanna Fowler said in an ODOC video. “And I’m so grateful for it.”

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, 399 PK-12 school districts, 13 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.

February is Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month

During a year of pandemic changes, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education kept its focus on helping Oklahomans succeed while adding new programs in response to new needs.

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.

“Oklahoma CareerTech continues to deliver high quality education despite the pandemic. We remain laser-focused on the multiple career paths for students and meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries in the state,” said ODCTE State Director Marcie Mack. “The work of Oklahoma CareerTech across the state provides meaningful results for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Oklahoma CareerTech expanded its programs in response to the pandemic as it continued its focus on filling skills gaps for both employees and employers in the state.

ODCTE worked with partners to launch several new educational initiatives in 2020, including a new energy career cluster to promote the benefits of pursuing careers in energy; online meat processing courses to fill a workforce shortage in the meat processing industry; and a mobile meat processing laboratory.

ODCTE worked with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing to revamp a nurse refresher course to get nurses back in the field faster. In addition, technology center nursing students across the state assisted with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

The CareerTech Testing Center worked with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association to offer certification exams for veterinary assistants and with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to use the Oklahoma Peace Officer Screening and Selection Exam developed by CTTC for OHP Academy applicants.

Oklahoma CareerTech also launched VirtualJobShadow.com to introduce more state students — more than 16,000 in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts — to nontraditional careers. The platform is ideal for schools and students doing virtual and distance learning because it is video-based.

When Oklahoma’s schools pivoted to distance learning in the spring of 2020, instructors in the 29 technology center districts and the 399 PK-12 school districts with CareerTech courses developed ways to help their students continue learning to finish the year. ODCTE offered additional instructional resources and guidance to tech centers and schools to help them with distance learning.

CareerTech students and teachers across the state also donated medical supplies, masks and more to help frontline pandemic workers.

Employees in CareerTech’s 13 skills centers, which operate in Oklahoma’s correctional and juvenile detention facilities, developed new processes that will better serve graduates; reduce barriers to reintegration; and improve communication, teamwork and probability of graduate success.

During a year of pivots caused by the pandemic, Oklahoma CareerTech was able to stay true to its mission of preparing Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life and expand its offerings to meet new needs in new ways.

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, 399 PK-12 school districts, 13 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.

CareerTech by the Numbers in Fiscal Year 2020

  • 399 PK-12 school districts with 1,399 teachers and 132,532 enrollments
  • 29 technology center districts with 58 campuses, 1,306 teachers and 310,285 enrollments
  • 37 percent of sixth through 12th grade 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 86,000 students in co-curricular CareerTech student organizations: FFA; Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America; SkillsUSA; Technology Student Association; Business Professionals of America; HOSA; and DECA
  • 18,685 industry-endorsed certificates earned
  • 13 skills centers with 35 teachers and 1,541 enrollments
  • 32 adult basic education providers at 111 sites serving 10,768 students
  • 297 students earning high school diplomas in dropout recovery program
  • 7,295 industries served by business and industry training
  • 1,767 new jobs with training from ODCTE Business and Industry Services Division
  • $390 million secured by state companies in government contracts with help from Oklahoma Procurement Technical Assistance Center

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit

Oklahoma Summit - 53rd Logo

  • Registration is open.
  • Summit dates are Aug. 4-5.

The 53rd Annual Oklahoma Summit will be held virtually this year.

Online Registration

All participants are strongly advised to register in advance to provide a quicker, more efficient log-in experience. Beginning July 8, online registration requires you to fill out your personal information for the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education to enter into its new data storage system. After you complete your information for ODCTE, you will continue on to the OkACTE website to verify your personal information with OkACTE. From there, you will proceed with registration and membership options. The online registration/membership is located on a secured site. When registering, please be sure to print your paid receipt. This will help facilitate your log-in process.

Register Here for Oklahoma Summit 2020

For any questions or assistance with online Summit registration, please contact the OkACTE office at 405-525-8906 or

Oklahoma Technology Centers Virtually Teaching Students, Helping Businesses

Working remotely and having adjusted work environments to fight COVID-19 doesn’t DeliveryArms.jpjgmean Oklahoma CareerTech’s delivery arms have stopped offering services.

Like the state’s preK-12th grade public schools, CareerTech’s statewide network of technology centers has entered the world of distance learning for its secondary and postsecondary students. The tech centers are continuing to provide education — including classes and assignments — through web-based technology and, if needed, paper packets.

An auto collision and refinishing instructor at Metro Technology Centers in Oklahoma City is allowing students to see what he is working on with live feeds from his shop at his home. A diesel technology instructor at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee is creating videos of repairs he is doing in his own shop in addition to having Zoom meetings, assignments and quizzes.

“The good from this is finding yet another way to teach,” said Ed Jolly of Gordon Cooper Tech.

A service careers instructor at Canadian Valley Technology Center’s El Reno campus has created YouTube instructional videos and is giving his students assignments based on each video’s information. Some are hands-on, like mowing lawns or using certain landscape tools, said instructor Jayson Floyd, and others are written.

Some of his students, however, do not have internet access, he said.

“For those students, I will be calling them three times a week and directing them to a hands-on activity they can perform within their house that is related to what I teach,” he said.

ODCTE is posting tech centers’ distance learning plans at okcareer.tech/Techplans. Students can contact their technology centers to receive information about the tech center’s distance learning plans and requirements.

In addition, the technology centers continue to offer training to Oklahoma business and industry clients when possible. Businesses with workforce training needs can contact their local technology centers to explore distance learning options.

To help support career and technology educators across the state, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education has instructional resources, okcareer.tech/CTinstruct, and guidance on financial, educational and other issues as well at okcareer.tech/CTFAQs.

“Oklahoma CareerTech is here to support our stakeholders, and we will make it through this situation together while continuing to provide education that meets the needs of our students and our state,” said Marcie Mack, ODCTE state director.

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 K-12 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.

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