According to testimony from the state's technical institutes given in Pierre, South Dakota Tech Schools are number #1 in the country for completion rates.

The State Appropriations Committee heard that number and others from the leaders of Technical Schools on Tuesday, Jan. 21st.

Completion rates for South Dakota students is 76% which places us at #1 in the country for full time students, and also important we are #3 in the country in first year retention rates. There continues to be steady growth in enrollment and degrees awarded.

Representatives for the Tech Schools also laid out factors which contribute to a shortage of skilled workers in our state:

!)      Declining or stagnant high school enrollment;

2)     Geographic disparities;

3)     Increased recruitment of SD students by surrounding states with lower costs:

4)     An overall mismatch of skills.

Forecasts show the problem will get worse unless changes are made.

Many students have little exposure to technical careers and, as a result, many programs have little appeal, but are in fields in which there is high demand.

State funding for the Tech schools has declined 14% since FY09, while enrollment has increase 26%. The per student allocation has gone down 32% and with inflation the loss is 38%.

It is interesting to note the new money Governor Daugaard has given for specific equipment to assist the tech schools.

The question is whether the Legislature will respond with more resources to assist the tech schools in the job of educating our students to be viable members of the ever changing, technologically advancing world of work..