The cost of our worldwide pandemic is high, not only in terms of loss of life but also, loss of financial means. Unemployment rates in our country are at historic highs as people scramble and pivot to find ways to pay bills and feed their families.

Here in South Dakota, for people looking for a path toward a brighter future, and perhaps a new career in a high-demand field, the new Upskill program from the South Dakota Department of Education could be the first step.

The South Dakota Board of Technical Education developed this program specifically because of the employment issues arising from COVID-19.

According to a press release from Governor Noem's office, "UpSkill consists of 22 online certificate programs in high-demand fields...". "The programs will begin this fall at the state’s four technical colleges."

Students can earn these credentials at little to no cost thanks to a partnership between the SD Board of Technical Education and the Department of Labor Regulation. Applicants must be classified as a dislocated worker and be eligible for re-employment assistance.

This is the list of current program categories, with most containing multiple certificate opportunities.

  • Agriculture
  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Business, Management & Administration
  • Finance
  • Health Science
  • Information Technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Plumbing Technology
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)

Credits from these Upskill programs can also be applied to the pursuit of Bachelor's or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees.

Participating technical colleges include Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls, Mitchell Technical College in Mitchell, Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, and Western Dakota Technical College in Rapid City.

For more information go to the Upskill/SD Department of Education website.

Sources: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's office and Upskill

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