Tech courses added for professions in need of workersPIERRE — The state Board of Education gave its unanimous approval Monday to new programs for training workers in the fields of plumbing, heating and cooling, cosmetology and medical coding.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — The state Board of Education gave its unanimous approval Monday to new programs for training workers in the fields of plumbing, heating and cooling, cosmetology and medical coding.
Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls plans to offer courses in medical coding and plumbing starting for the fall 2013 semester. The cosmetology courses are scheduled to start in fall 2015.
STI officials said there will be an emphasis on African hair as part of the cosmetology curriculum. They said students currently need to travel outside South Dakota and the region to receive that specific training.
Lake Area Technical Institute at Watertown currently offers cosmetology courses, as do some private beauty schools in the Sioux Falls area.
Lake Area is considered sufficiently distant from Southeast that both public campuses can offer cosmetology.
The cosmetology program at Southeast is planned to accept 24 students and would be a one-year diploma track, with additional courses available.
Southeast plans the medical-coding program to be a two-year track for an associate degree in science, with room for 28 students, while the plumbing program would be a one-year diploma program with capacity for 24 students.
Southeast vice president for academics James Jacobsen told the state board that medical systems in the Sioux Falls area are “very worried” about finding enough people to do medical-coding work in the future.
Jacobsen said the plumbing program would complement the school’s current program in HVAC — heating, ventilation and air cooling — and there is high demand. “There’s a huge shortage of plumbers throughout the region,” he said.
Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City received the state board’s permission to offer plumbing and HVAC courses as two-semester diploma programs.
A state Labor Department survey indicates that through 2020 there will be a 23 percent growth in the number of heating, cooling and refrigeration technicians in South Dakota, as well as a 10 percent growth in plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters during that same period, along with a 19 percent growth in helpers for them.
Greg Hartman, president of Wolff’s Plumbing and Heating at Spearfish, was one of several contractors who submitted a letter of support for Western Dakota’s proposed addition of plumbing and HVAC programs. He said the plumbing, heating and cooling industry “faces a critical shortage of trained employees entering our industry — both locally and nationally.”
Western Dakota Technical Institute will use advisory boards for both programs. The numbers of students for the two programs isn’t formally set yet.
WDTI president Mark Wilson said Western Dakota needs to become more involved with the region’s construction industries.