Tribe investing $2M per year to train Cherokees for health, IT, construction, lineman jobs

Front row: Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Chief of Staff Todd Enlow. Back row: Tribal Councilors Keith Austin, Mike Shambaugh, Dora Patzkowski, Janees Taylor, Joe Deere.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced and signed legislation Wednesday that will double the funding to $2 million per year to train Cherokees in the areas of construction, health, information technology and lineman trade jobs.

 Chief Hoskin signed the Career Readiness Act at Northeast Tech in Pryor during a construction trade class with about a dozen Native students.

 “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,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Some of the best paying jobs are in the skilled trades that can only be learned through vocational training or career technology programs.”

 The Career Readiness Act doubles current funding levels from $1 million to $2 million per year, which will be used for the tribe’s Career Services department to offer tribal citizens slots in training programs.

 “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,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “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.”

Currently, Career Services offers a construction trade class at Northeast Tech in Pryor. A training course for health care industry jobs at Indian Capital Technology Center is being planned and other courses in IT and line work will be offered.

 “With our new outpatient health facility fully opening this fall in Tahlequah and requiring 850 new jobs over the next few years, and construction projects ongoing throughout northeastern Oklahoma that will require plumbing and infrastructure technology needs, the Career Readiness Act will help fill these job gaps and benefit the lives of many tribal citizens,” said Canaan Duncan, District 7 Councilor of the Cherokee Nation.

 In Fiscal Year 2019, Career Services served 687 students in short-term customized training programs, in two-year vocational training programs or through tribal economic development job training.

 “This may be the better career path for our tribal citizens since these training programs make it free or very affordable for them,” said Career Services Executive Director Diane Kelley. “We look forward to partnering with our area career technology centers and vocational schools for these short, customized training programs.”

 Since being sworn into office in August, Chief Hoskin has also increased minimum wage at Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses to $11 an hour. Chief Hoskin launched a $30 million housing, jobs and sustainable communities’ initiative, invested $16 million into Cherokee language preservation, announced improving patient wait times and asserted a treaty right and appointed a Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress.

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