Viewpoint: CareerTech education can make big impact, especially in diverse communities –

We are starting to see more opportunities for our youths in the CareerTech education arena, not putting aside higher education, which is important to our societies. A lot of CTE programs gear students toward a trade in their desired fields and enhance their opportunities to become professionals in their chosen professions.

These programs are giving minorities opportunities that were not generally available in the past. This opportunity enhances the student’s ability to learn a trade and make a good living at it. CTE centers offer programs in the Health, Engineering, Information Technology and the Aviation arena, which has become Oklahoma’s second-largest employer. These are just a few of the many career opportunities that our youth and adult learners can take advantage of at one of 29 technology centers in the state.

Coming from a Hispanic background, I was not given many opportunities to pursue higher education, but I have seen first-hand the opportunity that CTE gave me as a youth, as well as an adult.

We need to look at CareerTech education in a different manner when dealing with the Hispanic or other diverse communities. A lot of our youths are both fluent in English and the Spanish language, but many of their influencers — parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles — are not. Family is a big part of the Hispanic community, so CareerTech centers should have recruiting sessions in Spanish that bring in the entire family.

Technology centers need to look at programs like English as a Second Language (ESL), General Education Diploma (GED) and Re-Entry Specialist (RES) programs — which gives justice-involved individuals a chance at becoming productive citizens — as necessary tools to make our youth and adult learners as proficient and as competitive as they can become. These are powerful tools that may be used as recruiting mechanisms in Hispanic families. 

Educators, administrators or anyone else involved in the CareerTech environment, let’s become advocates to get our youth and adult learners educated so they can have a successful profession.

Ernest Gomez is a retired adult development supervisor at Moore Norman Technology Center.