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Port of Catoosa looks to partner with Union Public Schools to create apprentice program for students

Union looks to expand workforce program
Posted at 5:21 PM, Sep 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 08:46:39-04

TULSA, Okla. -- The average age of an employee at the Port of Catoosa is 56 years old.

Now these businesses are rapidly looking to fill positions. By next fall, the Port Authority hopes to train Union students through an apprentice program.

"Learn what they need, learn what that company needs. Welding, electrical work, pipe fitting, or driving, equipment operations, whatever it may be they can learn about it and experience it," former Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett said.

Bartlett is now on the board for the Port Authority, and he approached Union Public Schools with the idea of providing opportunities outside of college as the cost continues to grow.

"College degrees are terrific, but they're not for everybody, not everybody wants them. So what are we doing with the kids that don't want to go to college, that can't go? They're falling through the cracks and in many cases they don't have any support," he said.

The goal is to give students skills and a job, ready by the time they graduate, while creating an interest in school until that time comes.

"If anything maybe this will help parents save some money too so you don't get caught up into that situation where a student might really think they want to do something and then once they get into they find out "no this isn't really what I'm passionate about or what I want to do," superintendent Kirt Hartzler said.

Union launched a Career Connect program four years ago, which now includes more than 70 industries, with everything from mechanics and engineering. Now the district sees this as an opportunity to include manufacturing jobs.

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