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Workforce Is A Priority This Gubernatorial Election

As the third of the three major candidates for governor have released their economic initiative, one thing is clear -- they want to keep younger workers in the state, grow current business and attract new jobs.

Each plan for achieving those goals differ.

All three major gubernatorial candidates agree workforce development is a must, but they differ slightly in how to approach the issue.

Democratic candidate State Senator Billie Sutton says he’d like the state to encourage Career and Technical education grants for programs like one in his hometown.

“One of the things that my hometown of Burke did was create a collaborative program along with three other schools where they were able to purchase four mobile units so every kid in high school has the opportunity to take one of four career-tech classes throughout their high school career. That doesn’t happen in a lot of parts of our state, many parts of our state."

That program was financed in part by the Future Fund, a state grant that supports workforce development.

Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem says she’ll do away with summer studies and task forces. The results of which, she says, typically lead toward growing government, not the economy. She says younger South Dakotans leave the state to make more money. She says other neighboring states are out performing South Dakota.

“We need to bring that kind of opportunity to South Dakota. We do that through workforce training, we do it by recruiting businesses to come to our state that pay in those higher job areas. But also, we give those businesses that are already here an opportunity to grow.”

Noem says to do that, the state must prioritize education programs that are job focused, not just about attaining a degree. Noem also calls to ease state licensing requirements, an idea that failed to pass through the legislature this past session.

Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley says he wants to transform unemployment insurance by renaming the program and putting accountability measures in place to ensure a job search is underway.  Jackley says he also wants to invest in career and technical education.

South Dakota’s unemployment rate sits at around 3.4 %.

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