Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Educator: We Must Work Together to Improve Work Force Pipeline

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Educator: We Must Work Together to Improve Work Force Pipeline

Article excerpt

Phil Berkenbile looks at a crowd of education representatives and turns his focus to members of the business community.

"How do we prepare for our next work force?" asked Berkenbile, director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. "People want workers, and they are willing to pay for them."

The Tulsa Metro Chamber State of Education event was held Tuesday afternoon to discuss if there is a plug in Oklahoma's work force pipeline.

Berkenbile said the main resource in obtaining more employees is ensuring students stay in school and receive the proper training necessary for the work force. One way education can help elevate Oklahoma's economy is making high school students aware of CareerTech options, he said.

"Times have changed - years ago students didn't need all the skills they are learning today but they do now," he said. "We have to work together to keep these students engaged and into the work force."

He is pushing to change how classes are delivered and for CareerTech to become better aligned with higher education.

He encourages more career intervention programs at an earlier age for Oklahoma students.

"It takes all institutes to work

together, along with people of Oklahoma who are involved in business and industries to develop a pipeline that is needed for this state to grow," he said.

Glen Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, said higher education also echoes the need to increase the number of college graduates. He said future workers must be prepared to work in a rapidly changing global economy or they will be left behind.

Johnson presented six incentives higher education is undertaking in order to achieve its goal. One approach is the adult degree completion program, which will reach out to students who have hours toward a degree but have yet to obtain it. The program was rolled out last year, and he said the response has been positive.

"Those adult students can go back and get their degree and be organization leaders - and more valuable to themselves and their state when they do," he said.

Johnson said getting students in the work force pipeline earlier can be achieved by increasing the number of high school students who participate in concurrent enrollment programs that earn them college credit. …

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