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.
“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.
Alyssa Ulrich – Francis Tuttle Technology Center, FCCLA and SkillsUSA
Pastry chef discovers a recipe for career success at Francis Tuttle.
THEN: An aspiring pastry chef before she was old enough to drive. When Alyssa Ulrich complained to her family that she was wasting time on homework she knew she would never use as a baker, her sister-in-law told her about Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s culinary arts program.
“As soon as I saw images of Francis Tuttle’s kitchens and heard stories of their famous Swedish baker,” she said, “I made an appointment the very next day to try to get enrolled in the coming school year.”
Ulrich participated in two CareerTech student organizations, winning state and national titles in cooking competitions sponsored by both FCCLA and SkillsUSA.
She had completed the culinary program by the time she graduated high school and followed up with a three-month internship. Despite her passion, Ulrich said, she realized after she enrolled how little she knew about cooking. In addition to receiving “a phenomenal and comprehensive” cooking education, Ulrich said, she also
Learned about the power of a first or single impression and to treat every introduction as if it were an interview.
Developed problem-solving skills that allow her to work smarter, rather than harder.
Gained an understanding of the importance of continuous learning.
Strengthened her teamwork and communication skills.
Received her ServSafe certification, which she said gives an applicant a higher chance of getting a job or starting at a higher pay rate.
“My teachers were tough and realistic,” she said, adding that she had a better understanding of what a kitchen would be like.
“I walked into a kitchen with realistic expectations of long, hard shifts and never settling for good instead of great,” she said. “Every job I have ever had or been offered, I can trace in some way back to my culinary school.”
Ulrich uses her cooking skills every day in her profession, but when she’s not at work she is usually baking at home or thinking of something new she can make.
NOW: A pastry chef for The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen for the past three and a half years, Ulrich will soon manage the pastry and lamination side of the new Harvey Bakery and Kitchen in Oklahoma City.
Five years after high school graduation, Ulrich said, most of her peers are either recent college grads or about to graduate.
“They are still figuring out what they want to do and are now deeply in debt. No, I didn’t go to a formal college post CareerTech, but I am further along in my career than most of my peers. I’m able to work in a career I love and not have student loan debt looming over me for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life,” she said.
Ulrich said she would like to become a certified master baker.
“I love being challenged and pushed to be better and think differently.”
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.
Governor Stitt declares Oct. 18 – 22 Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week
Governor Kevin Stitt issued a proclamation recognizing October 18-22, 2021 as the second annual Oklahoma Careers in Energy Week. 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 employed more than 84,000 Oklahomans in 2021, according to the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. Leading the industry, Oklahoma ranks fourth in the U.S. for wind energy employment, third for installed wind capacity, sixth for solar potential, is the third largest producer of natural gas, and is home to the world’s largest oil storage facility.
“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,” Stitt said. “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. I know our energy sector workers will continue to help this industry grow, innovate and provide needed services and products for our state and the world.”
OEWC first united in 2019 to help address upcoming nationwide shortages predicted for the energy industry by 2025. As part of this year’s celebration, the consortium is promoting the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event being held October 20. The online-only event is hosted by the Center for Energy Workforce Development and aims to bring awareness to the diverse job opportunities in the energy sector as well as highlight and fill open positions in the industry.
“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 Marcie Mack, state director of 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 entering a career in energy and boosting 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.
“Our public colleges and universities offer numerous degree paths to prepare graduates for employment in the energy sector,” said higher education Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Increasing the number of degree-holders in STEM fields strengthens Oklahoma’s economy, and heightening awareness of those degree pathways is key to advancing educational attainment in our state’s critical occupations.”
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 sector is always changing, and there’s a continual need for new skill sets, which is what makes our partnership with education and the State so important,” said PSO President and Chief Operating Officer Peggy Simmons. “We are always looking for bright minds ready to learn and provide life-changing services to those around them. We hire qualified workers for jobs from engineers to power line technicians, from construction managers to chemists. Each one of them has the power to make a difference in their community.”
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.”
To register for the EnergyCareers 2021 Virtual Career Event visit getintoenergy.com and click EnergyCareers 2021 at the top of the page.
For more information about the Energy Career Cluster, Careers in Energy Week, 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 the 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.
CareerTech grad drones on and on about his new career.
THEN: In his own words, college after high school “didn’t go well.” Mason Hardy needed to learn a trade and find a stable job, so when Canadian Valley Technology Center offered him a Next Step Scholarship waiving his tuition, he enrolled in its automotive collision technology program.
He learned how to paint cars damaged in collisions, but he also
Had an opportunity to hear from potential hiring managers.
Got leads on numerous job openings.
Received career advice that helped him land a job.
This spring, Hardy was named one of the CV Tech Foundation’s Outstanding Scholars, but the career path he took after graduation was somewhat unconventional.
It was a guest speaker who sent Hardy down a career path he didn’t even know existed. Instructor David Venard invited a senior manager from Kratos, a drone-manufacturing company, to speak to the class about career opportunities. Soon, Hardy found himself on a phone interview with the company. After another interview in person, he was offered a job. Even after he accepted, he said, he wasn’t sure what kind of drones he’d be painting. He just knew he had the skills they were looking for.
“Everything we paint is made of carbon fiber deposits,” Hardy said. “Just like with cars, I do prep work and body work to fill in imperfections in the aircraft. Then I primer and paint.”
Hardy paints high performance unmanned aerial tactical and target drone systems for the military, including the newly organized U.S. Space Force. The smallest drone produced at the facility is 7 feet long, but Hardy also paints combat drones, used in air-to-air or air-to-ground scenarios. These aircraft are 36 feet long and have wings that measure 15 feet.
NOW: Proud of the work he does and making good, steady money. Hardy calls it “a blessed opportunity,” saying he likes knowing he is helping protect the lives of service members and American interests around the world.
“I give much of the credit to my instructor and counselors.”
Mason Hardy, painter for Kratos drone manufacturer
Oklahoma CareerTech Director Dr. Marcie Mack will join other education panelists in a breakout session at the Oklahoma Aerospace Forum this month.
The event will be 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Oklahoma City Convention Center.
Mack will join Travis Hurst of Rose State College, Jeffery James with the Air Force Association’s Cyber Patriot and StellarXplorers programs, Jamey Jacob from OSU Unmanned Systems Research and Randa Shehab of OU’s Gallogly College of Engineering to discuss aerospace workforce development and the education renaissance.
Other breakout sessions will cover technological advancements and the future of aerospace in Oklahoma; how the aerospace industry is changing because of COVID; and how Oklahoma is working to elevate aerospace.
More than 7 million people work in construction in the United States — and more than 83,000 Oklahomans work in construction — but the industry will need 700,000 new professionals by 2026, and Oklahoma predicts a growth of 12 percent.
Oklahoma CareerTech is working to fill that gap with construction trades training and education at its 29 technology centers and at its skills centers. The system offers education in carpentry, masonry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical work, heavy equipment operation, cabinetmaking and computer-aided design and drafting.
Oklahoma CareerTech’s construction trades programs are celebrating the national Careers in Construction Month in October, and Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed a proclamation declaring that October is Careers in Construction Month in Oklahoma.
Careers in Construction Month was founded by the National Center for Construction Education and Research and Build Your Future to increase public awareness and inspire the next generation of construction craft professionals. For more information about CareerTech’s construction trades programs, go to https://www.okcareertech.org/educators/career-clusters/architecture-and-construction or visit your local technology center.
Kelcy Hunter – Gordon Cooper Technology Center and Skills USA
Female construction manager built her future on a foundation of hard work and determination.
THEN: There wasn’t going to be much money for college, with five children in a single-parent household. Kelcy Hunter looked at nearby Gordon Cooper Technology Center for affordable education options, but the Shawnee High School student said she wasn’t excited about any of the female-dominated courses available. Instead, she chose carpentry…despite her mother’s concerns about the hard work and what she thought would surely be limited career opportunities for women. But Hunter’s mother also knew there was no stopping her firstborn, once she had made up her mind. Her daughter enrolled at Gordon Cooper Tech, where she
Learned basic layout, how to read working drawings and basic estimating.
Learned forming, framing, and interior/exterior finish work in residential and light commercial construction.
Received a certification in carpentry and masonry trades.
Earned OSHA 10, NCCCER, and Forklift /skid steer training and certifications
After high school Hunter continued her education, receiving her associates in applied science degree in construction management from Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. She worked hard, like her mother predicted, but contrary to her mother’s fears, Hunter has had no problem finding employment. In fact, the project manager at Lingo Construction Services said she used her training to build a four-story, 50-guestroom hotel.
“These skills provided me with a career that I have had since graduation, in the same field I studied,” she said, adding, “I broke the low-income cycle in my family.”
NOW: Hunter is still active in Oklahoma SkillsUSA, the CareerTech student organization that supports training programs in trade, technical and skilled service occupations. She is an industry partner representative for TeamWorks, a state contest that recognizes outstanding students for excellence and professionalism in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, electricity and teamwork skills.
“CareerTech provides career opportunities for all,” she said, “and it fields a critical gap between high school and higher education. That helps eliminate retirement-age individuals cycling out before they can field-train the upcoming workforce.”
Hunter uses her CareerTech skills every day at work, but said she also uses those skills at home.
“When I am requesting work around my home,” she said, “I do my own estimates, so I can verify they are quoting me a fair price.”
“You can train a person on processes and the way of your company, but you cannot teach being on time and putting in the work, which is a requirement of any CareerTech program.”