The Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds today to expand Oklahoma CareerTech programs and address the state’s nursing workforce shortage.
Upon signature by Gov. Kevin Stitt, the bill will enable Oklahoma CareerTech to produce an additional 1,100 trained health care workers over the first five years of full implementation.
During the June special session, lawmakers allocated the following for the Health Care Workforce Development Revolving Fund:
- $1,640,630 to establish a grant program with Indian Capital Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
- $2,032,767 to establish a grant program with Metro Technology Centers to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
- $1,625,858 to establish a grant program with Tri County Technology Center to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
- $3,504,368 to establish a grant program with the State Board of Career and Technology Education to recruit and train health care workers in Oklahoma.
Funding CareerTech is the most economical way to reduce the skills gap in health care and other important industries in Oklahoma, said Oklahoma CareerTech Interim State Director Dr. Lee Denney.
“Oklahoma CareerTech is well-positioned to respond quickly and efficiently to our state’s critical nursing shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Denney said. “Our health care training programs prepare workers at all levels to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living centers and other facilities facing significant staffing gaps. We applaud the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding and the Oklahoma legislature for their thorough and transparent process to fund these important programs to improve health outcomes in our state.”
ARPA projects approved during the regular session included $634,000 for CareerTech nursing programs.
“The $9.4 million the legislature is putting towards CareerTech nursing programs is literally going to save lives,” said State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow. “Due to sky-high inflation, many are in search of higher paying work. Meanwhile, health care facilities across the state are in dire need of trained workforce. We are able to address both issues by deploying these taxpayer dollars quickly and efficiently. By partnering with CareerTech, we are making a transformative impact across Oklahoma for future students as well as future patients who will be in their care.”