Oklahoma CareerTech Adds New Programs in Response to Pandemic

During a year of pandemic changes, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the state’s vocational training agency, kept its focus on helping Oklahomans succeed while adding new programs in response to new needs.

“Oklahoma CareerTech continues to deliver high quality education despite the pandemic. We remain laser-focused on the multiple career paths for students and meeting the workforce needs of businesses and industries in the state,” said Marcie Mack, Oklahoma CareerTech Director. “The work of Oklahoma CareerTech across the state provides meaningful results for Oklahoma’s economy.”

Oklahoma CareerTech expanded its programs in response to the pandemic as it continued its focus on filling skills gaps for both employees and employers in the state.

CareerTech worked with partners to launch several new educational initiatives in 2020, including a new energy career cluster to promote the benefits of pursuing careers in energy; online meat processing courses to fill a workforce shortage in the meat processing industry; and a mobile meat processing laboratory.

CareerTech also worked with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing to revamp a nurse refresher course to get nurses back in the field faster. In addition, technology center nursing students across the state assisted with COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

Oklahoma CareerTech also launched VirtualJobShadow.com to introduce more state students – more than 16,000 in 20 PK-12 and technology center districts – to nontraditional careers. The platform is ideal for schools and students doing virtual and distance learning because it is video-based.

When Oklahoma’s schools pivoted to distance learning in the spring of 2020, instructors in the 29 technology center districts and the 399 PK-12 school districts with CareerTech courses developed ways to help their students continue learning to finish the year. ODCTE offered additional instructional resources and guidance to tech centers and schools to help them with distance learning.

“The pandemic brought increased challenges to education and workforce development, but it also gave our state the opportunity to showcase our ability to adjust and create new programs that serve businesses,” said Brent Kisling, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. “As we have pushed forward with our economic development projects, companies have impressed by Oklahoma’s efforts to find new ways to support industry. CareerTech’s efforts during 2020 are a prime example of how our nimble state can respond quickly to challenges.” 

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