South Dakota’s four technical institutes are experiencing record numbers of students. Collectively, they boast a combined enrollment of 5,951 after 10 days of fall 2009 courses.
The schools include Mitchell Technical Institute, Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, and Western Dakota Technical Institute in Rapid City.
This year’s 10-day enrollment figure – an all-time high – marks an increase of more than 900 students from last year. Previously, the highest enrollment in the past five years was 5,226 in the fall 2005.
“The large enrollment increases at the four technical institutes are a result of additions and expansions in programs vital to South Dakota’s future, such as energy technology,” said Deb Shephard, president of Lake Area Technical Institute. “Enrollment growth will help ensure there are graduates to fill future jobs that the state needs to expand its economy.”
The technical institutes have added or upgraded several programs this year. Mitchell Tech recently began a wind turbine technology program that drew 45 students, and Southeast Tech has added three new programs: mechatronics, early childhood specialist, and health information services.
“The technical institutes have done a great job of preparing students to become skilled members of South Dakota’s workforce,” said Mark Wilson, the Department of Education’s director of Curriculum, Career and Technical Education. Wilson presented the 10-day enrollment report to the state Board of Education today.
“Especially now, with an uncertain economy, the tech institutes are a viable option for workers who need to retool their skills and get back into the workforce in a short amount of time,” Wilson said.