The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 16, 2013

Director: CareerTech future looks bright

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The future looks bright for career and technology education in Oklahoma, the state CareerTech director told Enid Rotary Club.

Robert Sommers spoke to Rotarians at the regular weekly meeting at noon Monday.

“CareerTech is experiencing a renaissance, not only in Oklahoma, but across the country,” Sommers told club members.

Sommers said the road ahead for the state’s CareerTech centers is to stay closely connected to the needs of the businesses they serve, so they can keep turning out employable students.

“We also need to focus on results, not regulations,” Sommers said. “We have learned long ago that having a standard approach to education is not working.”

It also won’t work if CareerTech schools become arrogant with the successes of the past, Sommers said. The best path is to stick to high ethics, affordability, performance and responsiveness, Sommers said.

CareerTech schools turn out students more “savvy” about the workplace, Sommers said.

“If you go to school, go to school, go to school one more time and then go to the workplace, you’re a lot less savvy about the workplace,” Sommers said.

With college debt rising and employers needing employees with technical skill, CareerTech can offer solutions to both, Sommers said.

“Last year for the first time, college debt exceeded credit card debt,” Sommers said. “All kinds of jobs that pay well require intense technical skill.”

Educators should focus on ensuring kids have multiple choices.

“For too long, we’ve talked about college as a goal,” Sommers said. “College is a tool.”