Technical Schools Look At New Ways To Raise Money


Technical schools in South Dakota are searching for new ways to raise money after an initiated measure failed. 

You may remember that Initiated Measure 25 would have increased tobacco taxes to give technical schools more money. 

KELOLAND News looks into what’s next for tech.

Whether it’s auto technology or nursing, many of the degrees at technical schools are geared toward high-demand fields.

“When you get beyond physician level positions, our largest workforce need is technical. That’s sometimes a surprise to people,” Avera Health Director of Workforce Planning Pam Hilber said.

Avera has started providing scholarships to some tech students who agree to work at least three years for the company.

“At any point in time, I think we have at least two dozen surgical tech openings across the footprint,” Hilber said.

In addition to Avera, technical schools are searching for more industry partners. 

“To help our institutes create affordability for students, create scholarships, support equipment and facilities,” Executive Director of South Dakota Board of Technical Education Nick Wendell said.

In addition to partnerships with businesses, some schools, including Southeast Tech, have started capital campaigns.

“Technical education is fairly expensive to implement. You need laboratory space. You need environments with cutting-edge technology and equipment,” Wendell said.

An expense that Hilber says is worth it to find the state’s next generation of workers. 

“We need more and more technical graduates,” Hilber said.

In addition to Initiated Measure 25 failing, this is the last year of full funding for the Build Dakota scholarship. 

The technical school program was created through a $25 million donation from T. Denny Sanford and $25 million from the state. 

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