OKLAHOMA CareerTech Funds Aviation Curriculum for High Schoolers, Puts Students on a Path to Aviation Technical Careers to Fill STATE Workforce Need
Oklahoma CareerTech programs in high schools and technology centers now have access to free aviation maintenance technical curriculum.
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education recently signed a contract with Choose Aerospace to provide the curriculum to any school in the state that decides to deploy an aviation maintenance program.
“At CareerTech, what we work off of is demand,” said Brent Haken, Oklahoma CareerTech state director. “We don’t create a supply of workforce; we create a workforce because of the demand that’s out there in the industry, and that’s why Oklahoma CareerTech is so strong, why we’ve been so nimble, and that’s what we’re doing in the aerospace industry.”
Aerospace is the No. 2 industry in Oklahoma, Haken said, but there is a growing need for more certified mechanics. According to the Aviation Technician Education Council, the current pipeline will need to increase by 20% across the country to meet the national need for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated mechanics.
“Oklahoma CareerTech is working to meet those needs through Choose Aerospace,” Haken said. “We are working right now to make sure every CareerTech school has licenses for any student that’s enrolled in those programs and wants to take part in Choose Aerospace. We’re going to make sure that happens through the Department of CareerTech,” he said.
“The program was created to fill a very specific need,” said Choose Aerospace president and AAR Vice President Workforce Development Ryan Goertzen. “Student that graduate from the program have the opportunity to go directly to work as a non-certificated technician, or matriculate into an FAA-certificated school to finish their airframe and powerplant training.”
The funding is part of the mission to remove barriers to adoption, said Goertzen. “We work very closely with state governments and industry supporters to ensure that cost is never the reason a high school declines to start an aviation maintenance program.
“A few Oklahoma schools used the Choose Aerospace curriculum last year at a cost of $200 per student,” said Tonja Norwood, manager of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics education division at Oklahoma CareerTech. “Now it will be free, so schools can teach the curriculum at no cost.”
Oklahoma CareerTech is paying for the curriculum with federal grant money received through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. The act, commonly called Perkins V, is designed to provide students across the country with opportunities to develop skills and earn certifications that will help them advance in their careers.
The CareerTech STEM division has worked with Choose Aerospace to approve the coursework for Oklahoma’s Promise credit. High schools expected to teach the curriculum in the state of Oklahoma include Broken Arrow Public Schools, Chelsea High School, Moore Public Schools, Putnam City Schools, and Yukon Public Schools.
The 2022-23 academic year saw the first cohort of Choose Aerospace students across the country. Sixteen schools enrolled two hundred students last year, that number is expected to double for the 2023-24 academic year.
For more information, visit chooseaerospace.org/curriculum.
About Oklahoma CareerTech
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education provides leadership and resources and assures standards of excellence for a comprehensive statewide system of career and technology education. The system offers programs and services in 29 technology center districts operating on 60 campuses, 391 PK-12 school districts, 17 Skills Centers campuses that include three juvenile facilities and 32 adult education and family literacy providers. The agency is governed by the State Board of Career and Technology Education and works closely with the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education to provide a seamless educational system for all Oklahomans.
About Choose Aerospace
Choose Aerospace is a year-old partnership of aerospace stakeholders including companies, associations, labor unions and education institutions, joined to address the availability of a diverse, qualified technical workforce and to spur interest in aerospace careers, and identify and implement solutions to the aerospace workforce shortage. A primary objective for Choose Aerospace is to make aerospace career and technical training a priority in secondary schools and to provide multiple career paths to success within the industry.