South Dakota Steps Forward to Change the Educational Landscape:
Michael Carney, President, Lake Area Tech
Solving South Dakota’s workforce needs will require innovation as technology changes the demographics of the workplace. In South Dakota and across the nation, key industries do not have enough technically skilled employees to fill the workforce needs. The demand for jobs which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree remains strong. Between 2014-2024, 49% of job openings in South Dakota will require post-secondary education short of a four-year degree. These jobs account for over 55% of South Dakota’s labor market, but only 49% of the state’s workers are trained to this level. South Dakota businesses are turning down contracts, foregoing expansion, and curtailing production because they cannot find technically skilled employees (http://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resources/publications/2017-middle-skills-fact-sheets/file/South-Dakota-MiddleSkills.pdf).
Just this last year, South Dakotans amended our state constitution to recognize Technical Education as the third form of education – giving us the traditional K12 system, the traditional higher education, and what I like to refer to as “HIRE” – (that’s H I R E ) technical education system. The Technical Education system is focused on enabling South Dakota’s economic development by growing our technical skilled workforce. But today, South Dakota could quadruple our welding, electrician, and licensed practical nursing program capacities and still not fill the openings just in our state. These scenarios are repeated across the nation in every state, predominately in the manufacturing, energy, healthcare, aerospace, and transportation industries.
The need and value of four-year degrees is not waning, and will remain above 30% of our workforce. Jobs that can be accomplished with a high school diploma are changing rapidly, dropping to 10% by 2030. The result is a widening gap between the jobs available and the skilled workforce to fill those jobs. In 2030, up to 60% of our jobs will require post-secondary education short of a baccalaureate.