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UpSkill Offers Federal Tuition Support for Fast Vo-Tech Certificates, Extends Deadline to August 17

The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation would like to remind you that if you need some training to move up or just back into the workforce, South Dakota would like to spend some federal money on you. The South Dakota UpSkill program offers tuition support to eligible South Dakotans willing to take courses in any of nineteen high-demand areas at our vo-tech colleges:

  • Lake Area Technical College: Accounting, Agriculture, Banking, Community Healthcare Worker, EMT, Human Resources, Manufacturing, Networking, Precision Machining, Programming, Welding
  • Mitchell Technical College: Medical Information, Dietary Management, Professional Truck Driving
  • Southeast Technical College: Computer Support, Web Programming
  • Western Dakota Technical College: Phlebotomy, EMT/Pre-Paramedic, Plumbing

The list of 18-credit, one-year UpSkill certificate programs differs a little from last year’s. UpSkill appears to have dropped Business Leadership, Office Management, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing (and hear, hear for dropping all that middleman frippery!) and swapped in good practical Accounting. They’ve kept Medical Information but dropped separate certificates in Medical Billing and Medical Coding. Previous certificates in Network and Cybersecurity and Network Support may be folded into the general Networking certificate at Lake Area. The Watertown campus is also adding Community Healthcare Worker and EMT to its UpSkill offerings. And UpSkill 2022 is adding Welding, Precision Machining, and, in apparent swift response to market failures, Professional Truck Driving. (TRUK 101 at Mitchell Tech: How to Put up with Crappy Working Conditions?)

Interested individuals should apply directly to the vo-techs; the Department of Labor and Regulation then determines whether applicants are eligible for UpSkill assistance. When DLR launched UpSkill last year, it focused on helping workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic; this year, DLR appears to be offering assistance to South Dakotans who meet any of these criteria:

  • Eligibility as identified in Occupational Skill Training Policy 5.27
  • Categories 1-6 in the Priority of Services Chart in Eligibility and Priority of Service Policy 4.1 have been expanded to include:
    • Single Parent
    • Long Term Unemployed
    • Native American/Hawaiian Native/Alaska Native
    • 55 and older
    • Homeless
    • Substance Abuse
    • Underemployed
    • Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker
    • English Language Learners
    • Within two years of exhausting TANF
    • Veterans and Eligible Spouses who are NOT included in the priority groups 1 or 3
    • Displaced Homemaker (Displaced Homemaker will be served under the Dislocated Worker Program)
  • WIOA Title I Dislocated Worker
  • WIOA Title I National Dislocated Worker
  • WIOA Title I Youth
  • Household within 200% poverty level with children under the age of 18 [South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, UpSkill FAQs, retrieved 2021.08.04].

The UpSkill website originally said DLR would take referrals from the vo-techs until August 9, but today’s press release from DLR says the UpSkill deadline has been extended to August 17, which is the day before Fall 2021 classes begin at Lake Area. Southeast, Mitchell, and Western Dakota Tech start classes on August 23.

DLR also reminds us that funding for this tuition support comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 and the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. This investment in education and economic development is brought to you by a robust federal government.


  1. Mark Anderson 2021-08-04 16:57

    Seems like great program Cory, almost European in its approach.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2021-08-04 17:37

    Well..we need workers, the more skilled the better, and willing to relocate…..low birth rates, out migration of young people, discouraging immigration of foreign nationals and low entry level wages have all exacerbated the problem in South Dakota…we can’t count on farmers putting their property up for auction and moving to town as a solution to our labor problems…its not the 1950’s.

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