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Ann Bolman

Western Dakota Tech (WDT), western South Dakota’s only public two-year technical college, has great news to share.

The accomplishments by WDT are something of which we can all be proud. Our college is having a positive impact on our economy by contributing to the growth and expansion of jobs and employers and producing graduates to fill highly needed, good-paying jobs.

Western Dakota Tech has received many recent notable accolades. In addition to celebrating its 50th anniversary, the college has received national honors, earned approval to add new programs which will benefit employers, and a survey of its 2018 graduating class revealed a 98% job placement rate.

WDT prides itself on being a great place to work and hiring high-quality faculty and staff to deliver exceptionally skilled technical graduates ready to hit the ground running on their first day on the job. 

In 2018, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Western Dakota Tech to its “Great Colleges to Work For,” report and its additionally prestigious “Honor Roll.” (2019 results will be released this September.) The Great Colleges survey/report is one of the largest workplace recognition programs in the nation. These honors bolster our ability to continually hire exceptionally talented faculty and staff.       

I am proud to announce Western Dakota Tech is home to the top technical education instructor and student in the nation. In April, the American Technical Education Association selected Jade Hollister, Surgical Technology program director, “Technical Faculty of the Year.” Dani Hersrud, 2019 Associates of Applied Sciences degree graduate, was named “Technical Student of the Year”.

As Western Dakota Tech is closely tied to the success and growth of the job market, I am active in Elevate Rapid City and Rapid City Collective Impact. 

The skilled workforce shortage is a national crisis, painfully noticeable locally because of South Dakota’s high employment rate. Due to the shortage of technically skilled employees, pay in these fields has been steadily increasing.

WDT offers more than 30 programs in technical, health care, business, and public safety areas to help meet workforce demand. The college is offering several new programs, including Registered Nursing, Industrial Maintenance, Farm and Ranch Management, Aquaponics, Construction Technology, Plumbing Technology, and Mechnician (specialty programming for IT systems in automated mining equipment).

Our education programs take one to two years complete. A technical degree is a wise decision for anyone, both high school graduates and non-traditional students, looking for a middle-class income and lifestyle.  

Western Dakota Tech is making a positive economic impact. An economic contribution study of our college by Jared McEntaffer, Ph.D., Project Director and Regional Economist with the Black Hills Knowledge Network, was recently completed. It shows Western Dakota Tech graduates experience between a 149% and 226% five-year return on their educational investment and most of our graduates live and work in western South Dakota. Moreover, each state dollar contributed to WDT results in $4.97 in total regional spending. In short, Western Dakota Tech is a significant contributor to both our graduates and our regional employers’ economies. 

WDT is advancing and we want to accomplish even more. It’s an understatement to say technically-educated graduates keep our society operational and healthy. Whether a person needs an HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) and refrigeration technician, or a paramedic to come to their aid, chances are strong that these professionals graduated from Western Dakota Tech.

With WDT’s exceptional faculty and staff, hands-on learning spaces, advisory board wisdom, John T. Vucurevich Foundation supported success coaches, and your encouragement of people looking for an excellent future, Western Dakota Tech will continue to help close the skilled workforce gap for western South Dakota.

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