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Funding solutions for workforce training sought by Oklahoma CareerTech

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education asked state lawmakers this week for a $41.75 million increase in state funding to expand the number of career training programs and help meet the employment demands of Oklahoma businesses and industries.

Oklahoma CareerTech State Director Brent Haken submitted to House and Senate lawmakers a budget request of $201,956,568 for fiscal year 2025, a 26% increase compared with CareerTech’s fiscal 2024 state appropriation.

The increased funding, Haken said, would eliminate a waiting list of about 7,500 students at Oklahoma CareerTech’s 29 technology centers within three years.

“If we’re wanting to improve workforce development, lure new businesses to the state and retain existing businesses, we’re going to have to make a serious investment in workforce education,” Haken said. “Local ad valorem dollars can only go so far. We need to make a major investment in our students in the name of career and college readiness.”

CareerTech’s budget request calls for an additional $37 million investment in workforce training, including $10.5 million for health careers, $8.1 million for construction trades and $7.6 million for manufacturing. The rest would be used to add 37 new career programs in the areas of agriculture, arts, information technology, management and administration, public safety, hospitality and tourism, audio/video technology and communication, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Through a network of 29 technology centers, 397 PK-12 school districts, 16 skills centers sites and 32 adult education and family literacy providers, Oklahoma CareerTech enrollments totaled 489,635 in fiscal year 2023, up 9.5% compared with fiscal 2022. CareerTech’s positive placement rate was 94% in 2022, which means nearly all CareerTech graduates found employment, entered the military or continued their education.

In fiscal 2023, more than 42% of all ninth through 12th graders in the state participated in a CareerTech program.

With additional funding, Haken said, CareerTech programs can be expanded across the state and more people could be added to Oklahoma’s pipeline of skilled workers.

“All of these occupations are in high demand,” he said. “They offer Oklahomans an opportunity to explore their passion, make a good living and enjoy life in Oklahoma.”


About 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 10, 2024
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