High schoolers can learn high-tech skills with new partnership

May 27, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Dakota State University

Sioux Falls high school students can start learning cyber skills early and take multiple pathways to their careers thanks to a new partnership initiated by Dakota State University.

DSU president José-Marie Griffiths and Dr. Richard Hanson, dean of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, took the initiative to create South Dakota Partnership for Student Success, or SDPaSS.

“We asked ourselves, what kind of committee could we create? What if we could deliver these cyber programs right into high schools?” Hanson said.

“Our core focus is on the students. We’re trying to enhance the ability to enter the workforce in three areas: cybersecurity, network security development and software development. The idea is to create multiple pathways to vocational relevance with the ability to get into a job.”

With those three areas and an ambitious objective in mind, students can choose from several pathways:

These various opportunities are courtesy of SDPaSS partnerships among Dakota State University, Southeast Technical Institute, the Sioux Falls School District, the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, and the University Center.

“Being a founding member of SDPaSS was important. It enabled us to develop the strategies that would provide maximum benefit to our students,” said Doug Morrison, director of research, innovation and accountability in the Sioux Falls School District

The Department of Labor saw SDPaSS as a pivotal chance to increase the number of registered apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships across South Dakota, Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman said.

“We saw an opportunity to expand into the information technology industry, and SDPaSS offered the perfect partnership,” she said.

“We could make minimal strides on our own to create pathways and job-related experiences, but together we have a much greater impact.”

These apprenticeships, interchangeable with “cyber residence programs,” will consist of highly trained people who will work with big companies such as SDN Communications, Avera Health and Sanford Health. Working with these large businesses will increase student advantages.

“The Sioux Falls School District is interested in creating additional pathways for our students that embrace educational and workforce opportunities,” Morrison said. “With SDPaSS, students are able to move at their own pace and maximize their potential.”

Moving at their own pace allows students to build an intricate portfolio, something they’ll take with them throughout their lives.

“They can build a portfolio of credentials while in high school, earn college credits at a reduced rate and harbor real-life work experience through internships. It will put them in a better position to attend a technical institute, university or move directly into the workforce,” Morrison said.

Students will gain a collection of marketable skills that qualify them for the job market, Hanson added.

“What’s good about SDPaSS is that it focuses on cybersecurity, network security development and software development. There’s a tremendous need for those people, especially in the future.”

SDPaSS has published its website, created a support staff team and has projects in the works.

“We have had a couple of major projects going on as a direct result of SDPaSS. We are in the beginning stages of a pilot program with the Sioux Falls School District that lets students take university-level computer and cyber science courses while in high school,” Hanson said. “The eventual goal is to enable the student to complete a significant portion of their freshman year of college while still attending high school at a significant cost savings to the student.”

Ultimately, that benefits the state’s economy too.

“Our mission is to promote economic opportunity and financial security for individuals and businesses. Without a trained and quality workforce, South Dakota businesses are stifled and unable to expand. Without proper training, South Dakotans are without employment and opportunities for professional growth and career advancement,” Hultman said.

“Developing these creative opportunities will improve individuals and businesses, making for a stronger South Dakota. Businesses have to be creative at training their workforce, which is also a recruitment and retention strategy. While this model may start with the information technology industry, it will be replicable for many other industries and businesses.”

SDPaSS will have a positive impact on South Dakota businesses, Hanson said.

“They’ll get good employees, which eases their minds. I believe that when one sector in a community is strengthened, all sectors in a community are strengthened,” he said.

“Once we get these programs growing, we can get students actively interested in STEM disciplines. It’ll make everyone stronger. We need to educate people, get them trained and get them involved.”

For information, visit sdpass.com, or contact Dakota State University at 605-256-5040. You also can connect on Facebook at SDPaSS Facebook.

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High schoolers can learn high-tech skills with new partnership

Sioux Falls high school students can start learning cyber skills early and take multiple pathways to their careers thanks to a new partnership initiated by Dakota State University.

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