States Include Job Training in Reopening Plans

The national unemployment rate was 11.1% in June, according to federal data.

The national unemployment rate was 11.1% in June, according to federal data. Shutterstock


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South Dakota will offer free or discounted job training to people who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, one of several states to include employment programs in long-term recovery plans.

South Dakota residents who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic can receive free or heavily discounted training through the state’s four technical colleges, Gov. Kristi Noem announced Monday.

The program, called UpSkill, offers online certification programs in 22 fields, including agriculture, finance, information technology and marketing. To qualify, residents must be eligible for re-employment assistance through the state’s Department of Labor and Regulation, and be deemed “dislocated workers,” a classification that includes employees who have been laid off due to business closures.

Program participants can receive further education to advance in their current fields or start new career paths, Noem said.

“For those looking for a new career path as we get back to normal, UpSkill is here to help you,” she said in a statement. “This educational program will provide a clear pathway to stable careers.”

The labor department, along with the state Board of Technical Education, are managing the program, which is funded using federal coronavirus relief money allocated to states via the CARES Act.

Other states have launched similar measures as part of multi-phase programs to recover from the pandemic. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo this week announced a $45 million “Back to Work RI” plan that will pair job seekers with career coaches from some of the state’s top employers, including Bank of America and CVS Health. In Michigan, the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity developed a digital hub to connect residents with job opportunities and online training and learning resources, many of them free.

South Dakota’s unemployment rate was 7.2% in June, compared to 11.1% nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since mid-March, the state has processed about 58,000 unemployment claims, representing nearly 14% of the total workforce eligible for benefits, according to data from the state.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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