In Gov. Kristi Noem’s Sioux Falls visit Tuesday, she announced an investment of nearly $8 million over the next three years in apprenticeship programming.
Noem stated the $7.94 million funding of apprenticeships will help fill open positions and encourage people in the state to think of jobs and fields that they may not have considered before.
“We have open jobs, and we don’t want to be disqualifying people based on their resumes,” Noem said.
Noem highlighted South Dakota’s unemployment rate of 1.9 percent.
“Not only is that the lowest unemployment rate that the state of South Dakota has ever had in history, we believe that it is the lowest unemployment rate that any state has ever had in history,” Noem said.
She also said South Dakota has 25,000 open jobs that may or may not require a license or specific skillset.
She argued that, while positive, a low unemployment rate and a high number of open jobs correlate with greater housing challenges, childcare challenges, and similar needs that must be met for working families to thrive. One step the state can take in minimizing barriers is offering training in workforce skills through more apprenticeships.
According to Noem, about 3,000 jobs will be needed in South Dakota every year through 2030. Growing apprenticeship programs will help fill these jobs while allowing people to pick up practical skills and develop problem-solving skills.
Funding will go toward apprenticeships in nearly any field that requires a license to work in South Dakota, including plumbing, electrical work, teaching, cosmetology and real estate.
Noem argued that apprenticeships have not been successful in South Dakota in the past because of a lack of consistent funding — at the state level, but mainly at the federal level — and the burden that apprenticeships put on employers who have to make financial commitments to run the programs. She said this funding will help employers establish those apprenticeships. Businesses will be able to partner with team members from the South Dakota Department of Labor to define and develop apprenticeship programs that work for the employers.