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Director's Column - July 2022

Friday, July 15, 2022

By Lee Denney

Getting students college AND career ready

While career and technology education is designed to provide students with skills demanded by the labor market, it also prepares them for postsecondary degrees in a wide range of technical fields. This is the premise behind Oklahoma CareerTech’s mantra to get students college AND career ready.

CareerTech activities include career-oriented courses, internships, apprenticeships and in-school programs that promote work readiness.

CareerTech programs in aerospace, health care, construction, business, agriculture and film production provide hands-on training that translates directly to careers upon graduation from high school.

By integrating academic skills into a real-world context, career and technology education can inspire students to be more engaged, thus improving core academic skills. What’s more, it teaches core academic skills essential to lifelong learning and often does so better than traditional schooling, particularly for disadvantaged youth.

But the combination of academic education and career training is important to assure students have the best chance at lifelong, gainful employment in a world of advancing automation and global integration.

A strong system of career and technology training built on a base of academic education gives students the option to go right to work from high school or into a university to gain a broad and deep education that enables them to adapt to changes in technology and workforce needs.

Oklahoma CareerTech successfully trains nearly half a million students each year through a network of 394 school districts, 29 technology centers, 15 skills centers and 31 adult basic education providers. What’s more, most CareerTech programs offer connections between secondary and postsecondary courses.

Oklahoma is regularly recognized by other states for having one of the best CareerTech systems in the nation. That’s because we’ve built a reputation for being inclusive and breaking through silos that traditionally separate the academic subjects from the skills and knowledge provided by career and technology education.

In fiscal 2020, Oklahoma CareerTech programs had a 93% positive placement rate, which means nearly all CareerTech graduates found employment, entered the military or continued their education.

Also, Oklahoma CareerTech served more than 5,600 companies in 2021 through our business and industry training programs, increasing profitability through some form of CareerTech service or training. These programs are customized to fit the needs of Oklahoma businesses.

As we move ahead in this era of college and career readiness, CareerTech’s mission to provide Oklahomans skills to enter the workforce and make informed career choices has never been more relevant.

Oklahoma CareerTech has built a reputation for pursuing innovative ideas that break from tradition and the accepted paradigm. By thinking outside the box, Oklahoma CareerTech has been able to reach more students with customized training developed in tandem with Oklahoma businesses.

CareerTech is investing in emerging technologies and new learning methods to provide an education for our times. These efforts require an approach that emphasizes broad academic learning coupled with a strong system for CareerTech training.

If you would like to learn more about Oklahoma CareerTech, visit our website at

Useful links

Follow us on Twitter at @okcareertech and find us on Facebook at OklahomaCareerTech and on Instagram at oklahomacareertech and read our blog, Oklahoma CareerTech Delivers. Find our podcast at

For news about Oklahoma’s CareerTech System, subscribe to CareerTech communications.

Lee Denney is the interim state director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. Denney served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2016. During her last two years in office, she served as speaker pro tempore.

Last Modified on Jul 15, 2022