Labor Dept. to Post College/Vo-Tech Job Placement Data; Now Let’s Help Indians!

Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman told the Legislative Planning Committee yesterday that her department is working with the Department of Education and the Board of Regents to publish information online about job placements and earnings for South Dakota’s post-secondary grads:

She said it will help parents, job-seekers, legislators and the general public know more about whether post-secondary education is meeting the needs in South Dakota’s jobs markets.

“So we can try to get a correlation: Are they in a job relevant to the education they pursued?” Hultman told the panel [Bob Mercer, “Earnings, Job Placements Will Be on a New Web Site,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.07.16].

I welcome any and all data the state cares to publish online for our eager blogospheric consumption. However, we should view the intent of the data dump proposed here with caution: the needs of the job market should not be the end-all-be-all criterion for the success of post-secondary education. I don’t need to know that students of the humanities are getting jobs in the humanities (what defines “jobs in the humanities,” anyway?) to be happy that our next generation is studying the humanities. Post-secondary education that provides a greater understanding of humanity and the universe can be its own reward.

Two members of the Planning Committee suggested the Department of Labor target some other, more useful data:

Rep. Shawn Bordeaux, D-Mission, said he is concerned about helping the six South Dakota counties that are among the 11 poorest in the nation.

Bordeaux said those regions lack development and opportunities and are in need of help in learning how to get access to more government money.

Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, asked Hultman to update Native American employment data on a regular basis to the Legislature, along with the data for veterans, retired people and people with disabilities.

Vehle also asked for a deeper look at South Dakotans who live on incomes below the federal poverty level [Mercer, 2015.07.16].

Sen. Vehle is right to call for more specific data about Native American employment would be great, especially given the disputed numbers we have on unemployment on the reservations. The Department of Labor offers some demographic data, but I don’t see a specific count of unemployed American Indians.

Rep. Bordeaux is right to suggest the Department of Labor should focus more attention on our poorest American Indian communities: our post-secondary graduates are already far better off economically, regardless of whether they work in their degree field, than the Native American population that struggles just to get out of high school and on to further education.

Rep. Bordeaux says we should get beyond data and put dollars to work for the tribes, but Rep. Kristin Conzet resists:

Bordeaux suggested state government’s budget surplus could be directed toward programs that need more money rather than be automatically sent to the budget reserve.

Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City, said she agreed with Bordeaux’s point but wants the money applied broadly.

“We really need to look at the unemployment issue all across South Dakota,” Conzet said. “Make sure that we’re including everybody who lives in our borders” [Mercer, 2015.07.16].

White privilege check, Rep. Conzet: I think “including everybody” is exactly what Rep. Bordeaux is talking about. Current employment and economic development policies aren’t including everybody. Divvying up surplus dollars equally among the haves and the have-nots only preserves the gap between the haves and the have-nots. “Including everybody” in overall policy would mean we would focus a new policy on the have-nots (in this conversation, our Lakota brothers and sisters whom Rep. Bordeaux represents in District 26A on the Rosebud Reservation) to include them in the relative prosperity that the haves already have.

Counting the jobs college and vo-tech grads get is interesting, but it’s not as pressing an issue as counting the unemployed on our reservations and hooking our American Indian neighbors up with jobs.

8 Responses to Labor Dept. to Post College/Vo-Tech Job Placement Data; Now Let’s Help Indians!

  1. larry kurtz

    Pay tribes for the Black Hills. Make the Hills, the Sioux Ranger District in the Slim Buttes, the national grasslands a national monument governed by Interior and the tribes then make reservations counties in a non-contiguous 51st State.

    Done and done.

  2. The state and/or the Tribes should place a Vo-Tech school on the Reservation. It would provide a much needed skilled workforce and have long-term positive impacts.

  3. The King, Here is a good place to expand with your ideas. This is a well run, well accepted higher education learning center not only in Kyle, but satellites throughout the reservation and in Rapid City. Then we must go further to the east to Mission, South Dakota and the also well accepted Sinte Gleska College

    Your idea would not be hard to place if we only had the leadership to do that. Expand Medicaid to kill two birds with one stone and have enough left over to bring our professional educators back home. Bring lights to main street while fixing the way to main street.

  4. Jerry, if we had the funding for just one additional vo-tech campus, would we do better to put it in Kyle or in Mission? Does Mission have an advantage in being a little more centrally located?

  5. Jerry–I am very familiar with both OLC and SGU, as I have partnered with both in the past. IMHO a stand alone Vo-Tech school would be the best option, but regardless of affiliation, there is a dire need for training on the Reservation for skilled craftsmen (and women). Such a workforce could greatly facilitate Reservation economic development and indirectly help address the lack of quality housing.

  6. Glad that you are aware of these two great schools King. Yes, a stand alone would also add much to the education and training on the reservations as there is great talent that needs to be tapped into. Maybe even at the high school level to add more curriculum to start. It has always been a great disappointment to me that there has not been a better outreach but how can that be achieved when the state refuses to add the severe unemployment rates into their rosy cherry picked employment reports?

  7. I would think that two schools would be warranted as Mission would be more central to take students from both CRST and Lower Brule-Crow Creek. Kyle for the OST and for the work in all West River. I see the Electrical College (I do not know its name) in Rapid City has expanded. So there is that one and the one at the Vo-Tech in Rapid City for electrical training. There could easily be one at each of these other locations as well. You would not necessarily have to be Native to go to either of them as that is not the present criteria for the existing schools in Kyle and in Mission. Education and training, what a concept! Now if we could get, better put, make the politicos actually do something for the people, we may well have something populist here to keep our young close and our professionals paid.

  8. barry freed

    We have underutilized campuses in Rapid now. The High School dropout rate for Natives is disgusting. Having any dropouts is disgusting. What’s needed is to hook the students. Find each individual’s “thing”. Music, Art, Math, whatever, then tailor their education towards that. IEP’s for everyone.

    For me, it was cars. I noticed it was not easy to read 40 pages of textbook assignment and take notes, but when I was done, eyes tired, I would pick up Hemmings Motor News and read another 200 pages (not every word, just the cars I was interested in or a write-up about some blistering fast car). That tells me that the schools need to look at Students as customers and fill their wants as they fulfill their needs. Make lesson plans appealing and relevant to the individual, then build classes with those individuals. For myself and the others in my peer group, we would be reading about cars, writing about cars, using math and science to figure speed, time, computing usable compression ratios, and building go-karts in IT class. Learning to wire systems, weld, and develop many other skills that could be of use in daily life.
    That would keep students in school even though Social Studies, Government, etc. could be slipped in. They will endure what they see as boring to stay with what they find worthwhile.