Skilled laborers needed to fill vacant South Dakota jobs

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:26 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - It’s National Tradesmen’s Day and without these skilled laborers our lives would look extremely different.

South Dakota’s 2.3% unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country and, because the rate is low, certain businesses are struggling to find workers.

According to South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulations, some of the top careers needed in the state are truck drivers, welders, and electricians; all which fall under the category of a skilled laborer.

“We need skilled laborers that provide the knowledge and experience to make our communities move forward. Our communities all need mechanics, we need plumbers, we need electricians, we need skilled laborers to move our communities forward, to move our economies forward, and to provide those things we need in our everyday lives,” said Diana Newman, director of admission for Western Dakota Technical College.

Many people choose to go to a trade school over a traditional four-year college because they can learn a trade in a short amount of time. This is an advantage for students who can then enter the workforce sooner.

“Just for the ease of being able to get into a program where I wasn’t going to have to go to college for four years. I’m kind of later on in my life and thought that this might be a good opportunity to get in somewhere, it’s only a five-week program here and get my career going especially with the need for truck driver on the road right now,” said Christopher Bagshaw, a student in the professional truck driving program at WDT.

In addition to a faster workforce entry, many jobs for skilled laborers offer higher wages as incentives to potential employees.

“Money. There’s money in a lot of it, but even just if you’re not going out for work with it, things around the house. Like if you go to be an electrician there’s obviously outlets around the house. If you go to be a plumber, you can do all that stuff yourself and save yourself some money,” said Jaxon Tabert, a welding student at WDT.

WDT, which has a variety of trade programs, currently has a 99% placement rate after graduation.