aspen college excellence

WATERTOWN, SD - Lake Area Tech is one of six community colleges across the nation highlighted in The Workforce Playbook, released today by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. Addressing the national workforce skills gap, the publication outlines Lake Area Tech’s best practices for developing highly effective workforce programs. In addition, the Playbook details South Dakota’s Build Dakota Scholarship program and strong industry partnerships facilitated through cooperative efforts with the Governors’ Office of Economic Development and the Department of Labor and Regulations.

“South Dakota is honored to be a leader in addressing the nation’s skills gap,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. We are deeply invested in creating greater opportunity for our people, communities, and employers. Our approach to technical education merges economic development, labor market needs, and education, and we hope this playbook offers helpful insights for others. I am incredibly proud of Lake Area Tech and their work to serve students and industry.”

Now more than ever, college is a prerequisite for economic mobility and financial stability. When colleges do a great job preparing students for high-demand careers and pay enough to support their families, everyone benefits. The newly released Playbook provides guidance on how nationally recognized community colleges deliver relevant career and technical education, allowing students to gain the skills needed to succeed in the next stage of their lives.

The Workforce Playbook was developed as a tool to help other community colleges bridge the opportunity gap. It is a practical guide with the goal of improving other colleges’ ability to deliver talent for communities and enable social mobility for students. The Playbook acknowledges Lake Area Tech’s success in developing strong industry partnerships, robust connections to workforce development, and student success.

Chair of the State Board of Technical Education Dana Dykhouse commented, “Lake Area Tech does an outstanding job preparing students to fulfill workforce demands through its industry facing efforts. Aspen’s playbook justifiably holds up the Build Dakota program as a model for other states. Rightly so, as we have seen a huge impact in just the first five years of the program in South Dakota.”

Using concrete examples from high-performing community colleges, Aspen’s Workforce Playbook offers specific guidance about what colleges can do to build more effective workforce programs. Aspen’s workforce playbook details ways community colleges can excel at workforce and CTE education by advancing a vision for talent development and economic mobility rooted in a clear understanding of the regional labor market and local population, paying particular attention to changes in jobs and demographics; delivering high-quality programs aligned to regional needs by working with employers to define skills, then credentials; ensuring strong technical and work-based education; establishing rigorous systems for program approval and review; supporting students’ career goals with strong advising; and developing responsive, mutually beneficial partnerships with employers.

To learn more about The Workforce Playbook go to highered.aspeninstitute.org/workforceplaybook

Lake Area Technical Institute is a public two-year college located in Watertown, SD. The college was selected in 2017 as the #1 Two-Year College in the Nation by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence. The 40 acre campus is home to approximately 2600 full and part-time students enrolled in 30 different programs of study. The college has an 84% retention rate and 99% placement rate for graduates. Lake Area Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Learn more at www.lakeareatech.edu