Lake Area to offer UpSkill certifications for displaced workers (copy)
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday that Lake Area Technical College, along with the state’s three other technical colleges, will begin to offer certifications in high-demand career fields this fall at little to no cost to people displaced from the workforce by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The concentrated effort, called UpSkill, is the result of $2.2 million allocated to the South Dakota Board of Technical Education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds, according to a news release.
Through Lake Area, eligible adults can earn a certification in one of the following fields: accounting, agriculture, banking, community health care, entrepreneurship, human resources, manufacturing, marketing, medical coding, networking and cybersecurity or programming.
To achieve a certification in one of those fields, a student must earn anywhere from 16 to 18 credits during the fall and spring semesters.
According to Darren Shelton, lead admissions representative at Lake Area, students will be able to earn certifications through online classes.
According to Noem, UpSkill’s goal is to put displaced employees on a stronger career path than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“South Dakota is poised to bounce back from COVID-19 stronger than ever before. For those looking for a new career path as we get back to normal, UpSkill is here to help you,” she said in the release. “This educational program will provide a clear pathway to stable careers.”
Shelton told the Watertown Public Opinion that students do not necessarily have a background in the career certifications they wish to pursue.
“Having a background in a (relevant) field would purely be a way for them to kind of know they already are in that industry but want to go to the next level,” he said. “But there is no background needed.”
After earning the certification, students would be able to pursue a two-year associate’s degree.
“If a student wanted to upscale to an associate’s degree, Lake Area Tech would be behind them all the way,” Shelton said.
Those interested in pursuing an UpSkill certificate through LATC can apply online at lakeareatech.edu/upskill.
Through the UpSkill application, potential students will fill out a form that will determine if an applicant is eligible for re-employment assistance through the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. A student’s re-employment assistance from the department will likely effectively cover the cost of their tuition.
According to Shelton, the Department of Labor asks technical colleges to enroll UpSkill students by Aug. 13.
Those interested but who have questions about UpSkill can contact Shelton by phone at 605-882-5284, extension 230 or by email at Darren.Shelton@lakeareatech.edu.