Governor Noem visits Rapid City to launch Week of Work program

Governor Kristi Noem learns about 3-D printing at B-9 Creations. (KOTA TV)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Governor Kristi Noem shook hands with local teens Monday while announcing an initiative to improve the state's workforce numbers.

Noem is encouraging young minds to lead the way in a new Week of Work program.

Next April, for a week, 10th graders will shadow various businesses across the state to learn about a handful of career paths.

"We've got workforce challenges in South Dakota and a lot of our youth think they need to leave South Dakota for opportunities. I've talked to so many students when we did the pilot project of this that we ran recently, that they had no idea that these incredible jobs were right in our backyard," said Gov. Noem.

On Monday, the state is underway to recruit businesses for the program.

Throughout the fall, schools and businesses will work with each other to match students with the right fit based on their interests.

Though there are some work-based learning programs already, Noem said this program is taking it to the next level.

"We want these businesses to get invested in these students, to have a relationship, so that these students, as they go throughout their high school careers, start preparing for the type of work experience that can fill a job right here in South Dakota," said Noem.

B-9 creations, a 3-D printing manufacturer in Rapid City, is already on board.

"When companies like ours do well in South Dakota, there's opportunities for people with interests in a wide variety of career fields," said B-9 Creations CEO Shon Anderson.

Gov. Noem and several Stevens High School teenagers created 3-D art as they learned about the technology industry.

Students were surprised to find out engineers are not the only workers who keep B-9 Creations going.

"I never heard of this. Then be like, hey there's this business and it's actually quite interesting because I want to go into corporate law and they actually do some corporate law here," said Stevens High School Student Cassie Wessels.

To encourage these types of epiphanies, Noem's staff is also asking schools to add "signing days" on Week of Work for seniors to proudly recognize the career path they finally chose.

The South Dakota Week of Work will officially start next year from April 20 - 24.