Good jobs in Oklahoma go begging because companies can't find trained workers, business leaders said Thursday in support of giving more funding to the CareerTech education program.
Oklahoma's education system must equip people with the academic and technical skills needed to step into wealth-building jobs, CareerTech Director Robert Sommers said during a Capitol news conference.
Sommers announced the 2014 legislative agenda and funding request for the state Department of Career and Technology Education.
The goal is “a job for every Oklahoman and a workforce for every company,” he said.
“We recognize that education has many purposes, but we must prepare people to be economically productive. That's what CareerTech does,” said Sommers, who also is the state's secretary of education and workforce development.
CareerTech officials have requested an additional $35 million in funding for 2014-15, with $24.6 million going to local schools in the form of performance-based funding.
The idea is to fund training with proven results in terms of taxes generated by the people who go through the program.
Dana Weber, CEO of Webco Industries in Sand Springs, said she supports the “pay for performance” plan and a bigger investment in career and technical training.
Webco, which manufactures specialty tubing for companies, relies on CareerTech to teach entry-level workers basic skills and other workers new technology, Weber said.
“Things are constantly changing,” she said.
The company almost always promotes within, so entry-level workers have a path to higher paying jobs, Weber said.
Half the jobs in Oklahoma don't provide a living wage, Sommers said.
He stressed collaboration among K-12 education, CareerTech, higher education and commerce to prepare Oklahomans for successful careers.
Fred Morgan, president and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, said the state needs both a strong college system and a strong CareerTech system to provide the workforce needed.
“I hear from business leaders all over the state that they have good-paying jobs unfilled because skilled workers just aren't out there,” Morgan said.
We recognize that education has many purposes, but we must prepare people to be economically productive. That's what CareerTech does.”