The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 8, 2012

Georgetown study focuses on career, tech education

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce focuses on career and technical education as pathways of training for jobs that pay middle-class wages without a bachelor’s degree.

“More than 11 million middle jobs pay $50,000 or more annually, and four million pay $75,000 or more,” the study reads. “At least some post-secondary education or training is becoming the entry-level requirement for many jobs.”

Autry Technology Center makes those pathways available in Enid, with more than 25 career programs from welding, diesel technology and graphic arts to respiratory care, electronic systems and information technology.

According to Melissa Jenlink, director of communications and marketing for Autry, the school offers a wide variety of evening and weekend short-term courses and certifications for many diverse career fields and interests from photography and cake decorating to certified nurse assistant and truck driver training.

Jenlink said 673 Autry students completed full-time programs during the 2011-12 school year.

“We work closely with advisers from our local industry to ensure students learn the skills needed to be valued members of the work force,” Jenlink said. “Oklahoma’s career and technical education system has been used as a model for programs across the United States.

“We provide nationally recognized, competency based curriculum, education, and training for a myriad of specialized and customized courses and training opportunities.”

The school’s programs run a gamut.

“We offer 56 different certifications,” Jenlink said, “from EMT, paramedic and firefighter to certified medical aid to bus driver, as well as certification in compressed natural gas conversion.”

Autry also can help make an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree more obtainable.

“We have alliance agreements with different colleges and universities where students can earn colleges credit,” Jenlink said. “The credits vary from one program to another.”

At a time when four out of five postsecondary students are working, career and technical schools allow students to get good jobs that can pay the way to get further education, Jenlink said.

Among students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2008, 28 percent started at a community college. Nearly a quarter of postsecondary certificate-holders go on to earn at least a two-year degree, the study finds.

The full study, “Career and Technical Education: Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A.,” can be seen online at fiveways.