New SDPaSS Program Offers Degrees Through Apprenticeships

Dec 18, 2017

Credit DSU Media Relations

A partnerships between four state organizations is working to provide continuing educational opportunities in computer sciences for a broader range of students. The South Dakota Partnership for Student Success--or SDPaSS--blends workforce training with classroom learning.

Dakota State University is partnering with Southeast Technical Institute, the Sioux Falls School District, and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation to form SDPaSS. The program allows participants to earn certificates and associate degrees related to software and cyber security in part through apprenticeships with an array of area industry partners. 

DSU President José-Marie Griffiths says SDPaSS is meant for a wide variety of participants--starting with non-college bound high schoolers, underemployed workers and unemployed workers.

"Those three  areas are the primary targets," says Griffiths, "but also people who're seeking advancement, might want to get a credential i na specific area, and those seeking a career change who might want to try it out and see if they're interested in a career in cyber security or network services or software development. That's very different from the traditional way we tend to look at students, as, those students who come right out of high school and spend ages 18 to 24 in higher education."

The program is designed so that students can work at their own pace and build up credentials as they see fit. Griffiths says if participants complete a certificate program, they'll be able to carry those credits into a degree program. "In fact," she explains, "If you complete a certificate program you'll be 20 percent of the way towards an associate degree, and if you complete an associate's degree you're half way towards getting a bachelor's degree. So they will not have to repeat and duplicate credits."

Griffiths says the program is beginning with a focus in cyber-related fields because of the demand for that expertise in the workforce. She says the program may expand to include local and state government programs and corporate non-profits. 

The Sioux Falls School District will work with placing high schoolers who are interested in SDPaSS. Those not currently in a school system can contact DSU or Southeast Tech to be placed through one of their SDPaSS offices. The initial certificate programs are scheduled to begin in fall of 2018.