Competition designed to put a dent in skilled labor shortage
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly eight million skilled-labor jobs were lost during the pandemic. Technical colleges offer cost-efficient, job-focused education designed to help fill those jobs.
Skills USA is a organization that prepares students for careers in trade industries. The group hosts skills competitions all over the country and recently held the state competition at Western Dakota Technical College.
“Tech schools actually I feel like are still continuing to have their moment to shine. Because there are so many jobs out there that require those hands-on workers. We have a lot of students that maybe aren’t into the books but really like to learn hands on. They, (technical colleges), tend to be more affordable, they’re able to get that degree in 2 years or less. So, it gives a lot more opportunities to a variety of students,” said Nikki Mark, South Dakota Skills U.S. state director.
Coeur Wharf, located in Lead, is one of the last existing gold mining companies. They attended the event to show students what a future working for them could be. Shelly Rose, human resources and community relations manager, says without trade workers their business wouldn’t survive.
“They’re critical. Without the skill trades, without the welders, the mechanics, things like that, our equipment doesn’t run, if our equipment doesn’t run, we can’t get the gold. I mean they’re critical and there are not enough of them right now. We need more to go into the skill trades industry, and the field is one that is growing in a manner that it is phenomenal, actually what they can make in skill trades now with such a low tuition cost,” Rose said.
The competition at WDT ended Friday. The first place winners from each category will go on to compete with other first place winners at a national competition.
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