The Woodward News

Local News

October 16, 2013

Chamber hears education report

Woodward, Okla. — Oklahoma's state economy is currently facing a number of unique challenges with regards to the education of its workforce.

Dr. Robert Sommers discussed these workforce challenges and what he believes to be an opportunity to address them during Monday's monthly Woodward Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Sommers is the director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education and also serves as the state secretary of education and workforce development.

Sommers said some of the educational challenges include that often educational reform has centered around improving academic performance, without much progress being realized.

For example, he said Oklahoma's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) ratings "have remained flat" and the state's "graduation rates have not changed much."

The reason, Sommers said, is because "we in policy and leadership roles have not been clear in what it takes to be college and career ready. We've focused a lot on academics and assessment, but we've not linked how those assessments help to make students ready for the next step."

And in the workforce, Sommers said challenges include "significant unemployment issues while some well-paying jobs are still going unfilled."  This is a result of "a skills to job matching problem," he said.

Sommers explained that with the current job market, no longer is strong academics enough.  For high paying jobs in today's market, he said workers also often need technical skills.

"This leaves us with a strange dilemma where we have highly educated people who can't get a job," he said.

For Sommers, the answer to this dilemma and other issues with workforce education is CareerTech schools.

And he doesn't mean as an alternative to common education or higher education.

"No longer should we think academics or CareerTech, we need to think both," he said.

Sommers said the benefits can be seen while students are still getting their education and also once they go out into the workforce.

For example, he said students who participate in CareerTech "often score higher on assessment tests and many go on to college."

The reason, he said is because by teaching students skills that they will use for a specific occupation, those students are allowed to realize the relevance of their education and directly see how it will impact their chosen careers.

Furthermore, after students graduate and get jobs, Sommers said studies are finding that "people with college degrees and industry credentials out-earn those with just a degree or just credentials."

CareerTech also helps students explore different career opportunities while they're still young.

"We can help students make career choices based on facts and not what's on the latest popular sitcom," Sommers said.

In addition, he said CareerTech helps professionals stay flexible, especially as "our economy is changing dramatically."

Because CareerTech offers education opportunities for a variety of career fields, he said, "we allow students to make shifts as the economy changes."

"Our goal in CareerTech is that for every Oklahoman there is a job and for every company in our state there is a workforce," Sommers said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Enrollment dates set for schools

    With school quickly approaching, it is time to get your enrollment information in and Woodward Public Schools have set their enrollment and other key dates.

    July 30, 2014

  • Marijuana petition attracting signatures

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Medical marijuana may be the state’s newest gateway drug — to voting.

    July 30, 2014

  • Glow run scheduled in Alva

    ALVA--A popular new trend in running is coming to Woods County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Boy, 7, drowns in weekend accident

    A seven-year-old boy died over the weekend when he fell into a swimming pool at a private residence in the Wheatridge addition, according to Woodward police reports.

    July 29, 2014

  • Commission OKs grader financing

    Monday morning in their weekly meeting, Woodward County Commissioners approved the financing on a new John Deere motor grader and discussed in detail the upcoming County Officers and Deputies Association meeting the county will host this October.

    July 29, 2014

  • Deal reached to improve veterans' health care

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan deal announced Monday would authorize about $17 billion to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat veterans and make it easier to fire executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    July 29, 2014

  • Western Plains sets school supplies drive

     As the beginning of the school year approaches, so does the need for new school supplies.

    July 29, 2014

  • Area woman recovering from West Nile

    It wasn’t too many years ago when West Nile Virus was a scary word everyone hoped never happened to them and most of the time, that was true.

    July 27, 2014

  • Dedication set for art pieces

    Woodward’s collection of public art pieces will grow by two this week.

    July 27, 2014

  • ‘Support YOUR Cause Tour’ making stop in Woodward

    A musician is looking to raise $5,000 at an upcoming local concert.
    But Scott Helmer isn't raising the money for himself.  He is hoping to collect money to help support the Woodward Arts Theatre.

    July 26, 2014