Area employers seek grads with 2-year degrees amid workforce shortage


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Original post from KSFY - - - Monday, May 15

May marks a month full of graduations from high school to college. Time for grads to seek that first real job.

The cost of education is significantly less at a two-year school versus a four year school. In some cases, it can be roughly $100,000 difference. Research has shown the average first-time salaries and job placement numbers with that two-year degree are often times higher. Especially around here.

There's a real need for workers in a variety of industries. Some of which are not always in the spotlight.

"We're seeing an older generation, baby boomers starting to retire," Home Builders Association President Corey Johnson said.

Johnson is the president of Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire. He's also head of G.A. Johnson Construction, Inc. in Sioux Falls.

"Now, we're doing everything we can to fight and get these younger generations," Johnson said. "We worked close with colleges and tech schools...got my degree in Construction Management at SDSU. Now we're seeing the need shift to more hands-on, employee person involved in that career."

That's where college comes into play.

"Technical college is first and foremost our primary choice," Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) President Mike Cartney said..

LATI in Watertown is one of many schools known for its two-year programs where students walk away with an associates degree of applied science.

"Even from the time they first arrive, we don't define 'success' as graduation. we define success as placement. We talk to them about what they want to be after graduation. We see college as a pathway, not a destination," Cartney said.

Students like Riley Anderson were anxious to get that degree this month.

"I'll be the repairman, installing new equipment, doing preventative maintenance to keep everything running," LATI grad Riley Anderson said.

He'll be the maintenance technician at 3M in Aberdeen.

"It's a good confidence boost, I've only spent half the time and I can make just as much money and start working before them, have a head start," Anderson said.

Cartney knows there's a huge need for young people in the skilled workforce.

"As you look at the way the economy and workforce is going, skills and jobs are becoming very dependent on technology and in order to do those jobs, you need to have a degree .Typically a 2-year degree meets that entry point for employers," Cartney said.

Jobs in construction, manufacturing and welding are examples of some employers need to fill.

"Tech schools have done a great job of getting us more people," Johnson said. "We've been working with the workforce development to get more training, working with the schools, middle schools, getting these kids involved. that's where it starts sparking that interest...asking them 'what do you want to do?'"

HBA is hoping to attract those younger people quickly to meet the demand. Because the need for carpenters is expected to grow 24%, which is double the average need, through 2020.

"We need help. That just shows you, very, very big need of carpenters in our business," Johnson said.

A business that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"We're all just making sure that good quality products are coming out and people are getting what they pay for."

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