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Broken Arrow Higher Education Institutions Power Workforce

The northeastern Oklahoma region’s colleges and universities keep skilled talent flowing to high-demand industries.

By Teree Caruthers on April 14, 2023

Northeastern State University in Broken Arrow, OK
Northeastern State University

Broken Arrow’s higher education institutions play a vital role in training the future workforce and keeping a pipeline of talent flowing to local businesses.

A key player is the Tulsa Technology Center, a workforce training and economic development institution with six campuses that offers more than a dozen full-time programs in areas such as IT, health science and manufacturing. The school serves both secondary and postsecondary students, and companies seeking customized training for employees.

Leader in Career and Technical Training

“We are the region’s leader in career and technical training, with the mission of educating people for success in the workplace,” says Steve Tiger, superintendent and CEO of Tulsa Technology Center.

“All of our programs are industry aligned and focused. Through Tulsa Tech’s use of advisory committees and industry engagement events, we ensure our students are able to successfully leverage their skills in pursuit of accelerating independence with their various career options. Many times, students have several job offers prior to graduation.”

Tiger says in addition to its role in workforce and economic development, the school also serves as a vital community resource.

“Tulsa Tech is a place where individuals can go to take licensure exams, attend industry events, conferences and community meetings, and even explore potential careers they may be considering,” he says.

“All of our programs are industry aligned and focused. … Many times, students have several job offers prior to graduation.”

Steve Tiger, Tulsa Technology Center

A Community Partner

Northeastern State University Broken Arrow also plays a vital role in the community as an educational leader and workforce development partner. The campus, which opened its doors in 2001, offers more than two dozen undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Class schedules are designed to maximize a student’s time on campus with evening, online and blended formats, as well as weekend seminars and workshops. The campus also offers limited child care for working parents seeking to advance their education.

“Northeastern State University is shaping the future of the region as the educational partner of choice, setting a standard of excellence by serving the intellectual, cultural, social and economic needs of the university’s diverse communities,” says Jennifer Zehnder, Northeastern State communications and marketing director.

A Big Deal

University officials are working with the state and employers to create micro-credentials as an affordable, flexible way for individuals to earn in-demand skills and future degrees. Earning a micro-credential and its digital badge is another way for students to show employers that they meet certain competencies while working toward a certificate or a degree.

Zehnder says the university partners with local businesses through workshops and seminars to connect students to in-demand careers, and Career Services provides career counseling, assessment and skills training resources for students and alumni.

The department partners with area businesses to identify internship and experiential learning opportunities and hosts career fairs and other formal networking events.

“The partnership is a win-win – connecting students with potential job opportunities after graduation and assisting businesses looking to hire new professionals who already have a growing skill set in a particular field,” Zehnder says.

Tulsa Community College

A Vital Connector

Tulsa Community College is the largest two-year, multicampus college in Oklahoma. In 2021, more than 2,600 students received a degree or certificate in fields such as nursing and engineering.

“We like to think of Tulsa Community College as the connector and the collaborator in our community for education, and we’re a vital link to the workforce development in this region of Oklahoma,” says Angela Sivadon, senior vice president and chief academic officer for Tulsa Community College.

“We provide an exceptional education for all types of learners – from our local high school students to working professionals looking to earn additional credentials or learn new skills.”

Students go to work-ready programs like nursing and technical fields or transfer to four-year universities to get their bachelor’s degree.

Sivadon says the college’s workforce development efforts begin early. The college starts recruiting students in the eighth grade, she says, “so that they can have an understanding of what it takes to enter into higher education and what career options are available for them.”

Supply-Chain Scholarships

The supply chain industry is a major driver of the local economy. In 2022, Northeastern State University and Premier Logistics received an Oklahoma Impact Partnership Grant from the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development to promote careers in the supply chain industry.

The $164,500 grant will be used to fund scholarships for students pursuing a career in supply chain.

“It was important to bring awareness to our supply chain sector and help build a pipeline for that career path,” says Amber Miller, director of talent attraction and workforce development at the Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp. (EDC). “It’s important to bring that awareness at an early age and help students identify their career path.”

The EDC actively works with K-12 partners to promote internships and apprenticeships, and host career awareness events.

The EDC won a $175,000 Impact Partnership Grant for investment in workforce growth from the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development. Miller says funds will be used to promote mechanical engineering career pathways in the region.

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