South Dakota Apprenticeship Program earns National Excellence Award

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies presented its State Excellence award to the Department of Labor & Regulation for the Start Today SD Incentive program. This is an initiative to expand the number of registered apprenticeships in the state. From left are Dawn Dovre, DLR deputy secretary; Kendra Ringstmeyer, DLR director of workforce training; and Jon Pierpont, 2019 NASWA board president.

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) has earned the State Excellence Award for its Start Today SD Incentive program, an initiative to expand the number of registered apprenticeships in South Dakota. The award was presented by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA).

According to a news release, over the past three years DLR received $1.6 million in apprenticeship grant funding. The grant is to help South Dakota businesses to proactively contact people in their communities, to improve skill sets and to meet workforce needs.

In 2018, 40 organizations applied for the Start Today SD Incentive funding. Of those, 17 were chosen to receive a total of $490,000. Within four months, this created 14 registered apprenticeship programs, while three organizations implemented national apprenticeship programs.

“Apprenticeships help bridge our skills gap and equip folks with the tools they need to work high-paying, in-demand jobs right here in South Dakota,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “This program has been successful because employers provide their own innovative solutions, resulting in a higher-skilled workforce. We’ll continue working to bolster our work-based learning programs and expand career opportunities.”

The Start Today SD initiative has so far resulted in 300 new apprentices and a 15 percent increase in the number of female apprentices.

“Apprenticeships give people opportunities to experience new jobs and expand the workforce,” said Marcia Hultman, state Labor & Regulation secretary. “We have a pool of untapped workers ready to learn new skills, and now is a great time for businesses to take advantage of this opportunity.”

DLR was presented with the award at the 83rd annual Workforce Summit & UI Directors’ Conference.

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