Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. signed the Career Readiness Act on October 16, doubling funding from $1 million to $2 million per year to train Cherokee Nation citizens for construction, health, information technology and lineman trade jobs.
“I know that not every hard working, intelligent, bright Cherokee needs to or wants to go to college. But they do need an opportunity to get a skill to get ahead to get a job in the economy where the demand is,” Hoskin said, reported the Cherokee Phoenix. “I believe firmly that we will leave some of our people behind if we don’t invest in career tech-type training whether it’s IT, whether it’s health care, whether it’s the building trades. If we don’t put more resources into that, we are leaving too many of our people behind.”
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner added, “The Career Readiness Act will provide opportunities to more Cherokees who want to learn a new trade or build upon the skills they already have. I believe this legislation is something we can all support. It will help shape the future of the Cherokee Nation and of Cherokee families for years to come.”
The Career Readiness plan is bolstered by partnerships with vocational tech centers such as the Northeast Tech Center, Indian Capital Technology Center and Tulsa Tech. Hoskin signed the legislation during a construction trade class offered by the Tribe’s Career Services department at the Northeast Tech Center.
“We invest heavily in sending Cherokees to college on scholarships, and we should not forget our Cherokees who opt for skilled trades training after high school so they are as equally prepared. The Career Readiness Act will train hundreds of our citizens in jobs for the future,” Hoskin said. “Some of the best paying jobs are in the skilled trades that can only be learned through vocational training or career technology programs.”
A key aspect of the Career Readiness Act pertains to the Tribe’s $30 million Housing Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act of 2019, which aims to reduce the mounting requests for housing repairs. Three-quarters of the $30 million will go toward renovating homes with $7.5 million being put toward remodeling or installing energy efficient measures, such as solar panels on Tribal community centers and other non-residential structures.
Career Readiness will train laborers in general construction to “understand how to use a tape measure, how to use a leveler, how to masonry work or basic electrical,” said Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley, who added that this could be an ideal career path that’s either free or very affordable to Tribal citizens. Over the course of fiscal year 2019, the Tribe’s Career Services has served 687 students in short-term customized training programs, in two-year vocational training programs or through Tribal economic development job training.