Gov: Skilled worker shortage is state's biggest issue

Published: Jan. 9, 2018 at 3:23 PM MST
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South Dakota’s workforce requirements are changing and Gov. Dennis Daugaard wants to make sure no workers are left behind.

Tuesday, in his last state of the state address to the South Dakota Legislature, Daugaard focused on the issue.

Up front, he told lawmakers that the biggest problem the state has is a skilled worker shortage. While more jobs are requiring an associate or higher degree, not enough South Dakotans are getting the necessary education. Daugaard said in 1973 about three fourths of jobs went to high school graduates. Today, that number is down to just 34 percent.

Not enough students are graduating high school, entering college and then graduating, he said.

In a related issue, the governor said he was pleased with the push to increase teacher pay, up 8 percent statewide. Some districts even surpassed that. Faith, the governor noted, raised teacher salaries by more than 24 percent.

Another aspect of improving the workforce is in licensure. Many professions require state licenses. Daugaard wants to propose a change in law to let professionals from other states work for up to 18 months in South Dakota before having to get a state license. This, however, would have to be reciprocal with other states for the plan to be effective.