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Technical schools see increased interest

Increased demand for skilled labor in South Dakota has led to increased interest and technical school enrollment.

The state’s Build Dakota scholarship program has helped fuel the interest in skilled labor jobs among young people. In its inaugural year, 1,090 students applied for the scholarship in 2015. They awarded 294 scholarships for the 2015-16 scholarship cycle.

Tiffany Sanderson, director of career and technical education for the South Dakota Department of Education, said they did not know what to expect for interest in the scholarships, but were pleasantly surprised with the numbers. The Build Dakota scholarship covers high-need programs, including agriculture, automotive, building trades/construction, energy technician, engineering technician, information technology/computer information systems, licensed practical nursing, medical laboratory technician, precision manufacturing, surgical technician and welding.

“The technical institutes put together a revised strategic plan to take them through 2021 over the summer. The main goal is increasing the number of skilled professionals that are graduating from their programs to meet the needs of South Dakota’s labor workforce,” Sanderson said.

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