Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Tulsa Tech staff, city council members, State Rep. Jadine Nollan and Sand Springs schools staff celebrated the new Fundamentals of Construction program at Charles Page High School September 5.
The elective construction program allows sophomores, juniors and seniors from Sand Springs and surrounding schools, including Berryhill and Central, to learn about the construction industry.
Charles Page High School Principal Stan Trout said the program currently has 60 students enrolled. The high school has also partnered with Tulsa Technology Center in recent years to offer a Foundations of Manufacturing and an Interior Design class. The group toured the engineering, manufacturing and interior design classrooms after visiting the shop where the construction class is held, in addition to the engineering and biomedical science classrooms. The school reportedly offers the biomedical science and engineering classes with the help of grants.
“Through my time in the industry, I served on the boards, I’ve witnessed the growing stress these firms that cannot find qualified help (have),” Tulsa Tech Board member and Cowen Construction Construction Manager Danny Hancock said. “And with the expected 700,000 additional workforce needed by 2026, everyone should be concerned about how it’s going to affect cost and availability of construction services and consumer needs for construction, remodels and repairs. This program here will not have a shortage of industry members wanting to help and have the program be successful.”
Hancock said companies, including Cowen, LD Kerns, Platinum Mechanical, Colburn Electric and Reiss Painting, have made initial commitments to help with things like speakers, job tours and materials.
Durkee said the program is part of the district’s efforts in recent years to create programs and opportunities that prepare students for the workforce after high school.
“(It’s part of) an effort to connect and bridge what we’re doing in K-12 education in Sand Springs specifically to meet a need in the job market,” she said. “We know our job, our function, is to prepare kids for citizenship…we embrace that.”
Durkee said the district has started partnering with companies to allow students to have internships this year as part of that goal as well.
Pinnell praised the efforts after visiting the construction classroom.
“I just want to say what we’re doing here, we have to make sure this happens all across our 77 counties,” he said. “Crisscrossing the state the last couple of years, I would go in, I’d talk to superintendents. Early on in the process I’d talk to multiple business owners every day and they kept telling me, ‘Matt, I don’t have the skills or the workforce to meet the demands that I need in my business…’ Here’s the good news, we have the best career tech infrastructure in the entire country.”
Pinnell said collaborations between public schools, career tech and industry can help fill the ‘skills gap.’
“Every state realizes that we have the skills gap that we have. We can leapfrog a lot of states if we continue to do this…Governor Stitt and I are going to be a champion for you. For us to be a top 10 state, we’ve got to create more private sector jobs in our state and that does not happen without programs like this.”
During the commemoration of the construction program, Superintendent Sherry Durkee presented Pinnell with a Sand Springs T-shirt and the group signed a ceremonial ‘Golden Saw.’
Biomedical Science teacher Matthew Watkins also explained what students learn in his class, including human body systems and new things coming up in the medical field in terms of medical intervention.
Watkins said taking classes like biomedical science can give students an advantage when applying for colleges and scholarships.
Rachel Snyder 918-581-8315
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