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February is Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month

Monday, January 29, 2024

In a year of continued growth and new leadership, Oklahoma CareerTech affirmed its reputation for pursuing innovative ideas that break from tradition and the accepted paradigm.

Recognizing the growing importance of workforce education, Gov. Kevin Stitt recently issued a proclamation declaring February to be Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month in Oklahoma.

Workforce development is a higher priority for state leaders, and CareerTech expects to play a starring role in the state’s plan to meet employers’ demands for skilled workers. Oklahoma CareerTech has almost half a million enrollments and is planning to add and expand programs to reach even more Oklahoma students and businesses.

“Preparing students for careers has become a higher priority for more Americans,” said CareerTech State Director Brent Haken. “The need for educational opportunities that emphasize career readiness is growing, which means our mission to provide Oklahomans career training has never been more relevant. To meet employers’ demands, a serious investment in workforce education must be made to expand programs.”

CareerTech enrollment has risen in all of its delivery arms for the second consecutive year. Systemwide enrollment was 489,635 in fiscal year 2023, up 9.5% from fiscal 2022’s 446,940. Technology center enrollments were up 13.5% and 42.3% of all ninth through 12th grade students in Oklahoma participated in a CareerTech program.

“The skills obtained in CareerTech programs enable students to become immediately employable,” said Haken, who took the reins in 2023 as the ninth Oklahoma CareerTech state director. “For us, the goal is to get students career and college ready and to create a talent pipeline big enough to meet the workforce needs of every Oklahoma industry.”

Under the state’s plan to improve workforce development, CareerTech is working more closely with other state agencies to align partners, services and resources under one common vision.

“The goal is to create a more streamlined and responsive workforce system that empowers job seekers and employers,” Haken said.

In 2023, enrollment in adult education and family literacy grew 13%; CareerTech served 8% more businesses; and 991 students graduated from Skills Centers programs.

In addition, membership in Oklahoma CareerTech student organizations -- Business Professionals of America; DECA; Family, Career and Community Leaders of America; FFA; HOSA; SkillsUSA; and Technology Student Association -- hit an all-time high as membership exceeded 98,000.

Enrollment isn’t the only way Oklahoma CareerTech is expanding. In January, voters in Beaver County approved annexation into the High Plains Technology Center district. Students in the Panhandle county will be able to attend an in-district tech center for the first time in Oklahoma CareerTech history.

Last year, CareerTech also signed a contract with Choose Aerospace to provide free aerospace curriculum to high schools and technology centers. The curriculum is designed to put students on the path to FAA mechanic certification.

To commemorate Career and Technical Education Appreciation Month, Oklahoma CareerTech will be sharing a wide range of information about its programs and mission throughout February on its social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, X and Instagram.


Oklahoma CareerTech: Education that works for you

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, 397 PK-12 school districts, 16 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.

Last Modified on Jan 29, 2024
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