EDITORIAL: WDTI expansion good for area economy

The key to getting a good job is to get a good education. Any more, that requires additional studies after getting a high school diploma.

An alternative to the college route is vocational or technical education, and that is where Western Dakota Technical Institute really stands out.

Last spring, the school graduated a record 450 students, and according to school president Craig Bailey, 94 percent of WDTI graduates get jobs in their career field within six months of graduation, and 87 percent of its graduating students remain in South Dakota.

The school offers courses in such diverse fields as accounting, business management, drafting, electrical trades, computers, health sciences, nursing, law enforcement, auto repair and welding, among others.

WDTI offers the practical side of education that increases the job potential of its students. As Bailey says, “We talk about jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The school is currently in the midst of a $12.5 million expansion project at its Rapid City campus. When Phase I of its expansion is completed next year, the school will add a student services center, a joint library with Rapid City Public Library, new lab space, 150-seat lecture hall and space for more classrooms.

Future phases of WDTI’s expansion include collaborating with Community Health Center of the Black Hills. The agreement with community health will enable WDTI to provide its health science students with hands-on training and experience.

Bailey said when the school’s expansion phases are complete, WDTI will be able to serve a greater number of students.

Not everyone is cut out for college, nor is a four-year university education affordable for many students. An economy can’t function with only college-educated professionals.

There will always be a demand for skilled employees, which WDTI specializes in producing. WDTI also appeals to nontraditional students who are already in the workforce and want to improve their employment prospects with a specific job skill.

WDTI’s expansion is welcome news to area employers and students alike.

 

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