Vo-Tech Department Sees State Economic Rebound / Based on Training

Article excerpt

STILLWATER - By using the best barometer it has available, the number of persons completing its training programs, the Oklahoma Department of Vo-Tech Education has concluded that the state economy is rebounding, according to a report released Wednesday by the department.

During fiscal year which started July 1, the state's vo-tech system expects to train about 5,000 Oklahomans for new jobs, said Leo Presley, assistant state director of business and industry services for the department.

Those 5,000 jobs represent an increase of over 300 percent from the number of persons trained during the last fiscal year, and nearly a 10-fold jump from 1982-1983, when the department trained only 582 persons for new jobs.

Presley supervises the department's Training for Industry Program, which provides customized training for employees or prospective workers for new or expanding industries.

Training costs are absorbed by the state, but that money is quickly recovered, Presley said.

"Those 5,000 new jobs will mean an estimated annual payroll of about $100 million for Oklahomans," he said. "The state and federal income taxes alone on that $100 million will more than pay for the cost of the training - and that doesn't include other taxes such as the sales tax or any of the consumption taxes."

Still, the vo-tech department's main purpose is not to help the state fill its coffers, Presley added.

"Our focus is not on how to increase the state's revenue, but to provide Oklahomans with the skills necessary to make a living," he said.

Among the new and expanding industries for which the vo-tech system will train employees this fiscal year are Armstrong Industries in Stillwater, Farm Fresh Dairy in Chandler, Gulfstream Aviation and MPI in Oklahoma City, Hitachi in Norman, and Smith-Gruner in Ponca City. …