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SkillsUSA South Dakota Leadership & Skills Conference at WDTC April 7-8

Western Dakota Technical College (WDTC) is honored to host a total of about 300 participants, instructors, and supporters for the 2022 SkillsUSA South Dakota Leadership & Skills Conference on April 7-8. The event kicks off at 2 p.m. with an Opening Ceremony in the WDTC Event Center, Thursday, April 7.

During this event, career and technical education students, from high schools and colleges across South Dakota, will prove they are ready for careers in manufacturing, transportation, construction, hospitality, and human services.

“During skills challenges, students will work against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, automotive service, medical assisting, and culinary arts,” said Katie Paulson, SkillsUSA South Dakota State Director. “All contests are run with the help of industry experts, trade associations and labor organizations, testing competencies that are set to industry standards. The first-place winners will go on to compete in the national event, the SkillsUSA Championships, this June in Atlanta, Ga.”

According to Paulson, SkillsUSA is considered a talent pipeline and a vital solution to the demand for a skilled workforce.

“Jobs are available right here in our state; they are waiting for people with the necessary skills. Those people are graduating from career and technical education (CTE) programs. CTE is learning that works for America. We are very proud of these ‘champions at work’ for their dedication to excellence in their trades and in their leadership skills,” Paulson said.

High schools and colleges with students participating in the competitions include: Armour High School, Belle Fourche High School, Dakota Valley High School, Douglas High School, Hamlin High School, Hanson High School, Lead-Deadwood High School, Marion High School, Mitchell Career and Technical High School, Northeast Technical High School, Sioux Falls CTE Academy, Spearfish High School, Webster High School, Lake Area Technical College, Mitchell Technical College, Southeast Technical College, and Western Dakota Technical College. 

Ann Bolman, Ed.D., WDTC President, stated that SkillsUSA puts a very timely spotlight on the critical shortage of people with technical skills of all types. 

“In western South Dakota, the skills shortage has reached unprecedented high numbers. For employers, that is not good news, but for our students competing this year, the skills shortage creates incredible opportunities, and we know participants will be glad they came to show and hone their skills through this competition. Events like SkillsUSA, which elevate the importance of technical skills in society in general, are great news for employers and students alike!” Dr. Bolman said.

Western Dakota Technical College (WDTC) SkillsUSA S.D. Leadership and Skills Contest Event Coordinators are Troy Barry, Welding Instructor, and Chandra Calvert, Director of Industry Relations and Grant Management. Both are members of the S.D. SkillsUSA Board of Directors and have been since 2017 – Barry is the current President; Calvert is a board member. When he was a WDTC student himself, Barry was a S.D. State SkillsUSA Champion. In 2019, he was named one of five SkillsUSA Outstanding Career and Technical Educators and was honored at the national conference.  

Dr. Bolman, Barry and Calvert wish all student competitors the best of luck in their events.

“Regardless of how you do in the events, please know that we know the competition is fierce—after all, South Dakota has long been a leader in technical skills, and it seems we are experiencing a revived appreciation for this important part of our state identity,” Dr. Bolman said. 

Western Dakota Technical College thanks participating high school and college students, faculty, staff, and supporters for partaking in the upcoming events. The collage also thanks those serving as judges, and industry partners/employers who are helping with the contests. WDTC owes much gratitude to the SkillsUSA S.D. Board, and S.D. State Director Katie Paulson, for not only all the work that goes in to making the annual competition possible, but for all they do to promote technical education and the need for a skilled workforce year-round.   

Western Dakota Technical College

Western Dakota Technical College (WDTC) will have about 50 students participating in 15 SkillsUSA S.D. competitions throughout the next two days.

In 2021, WDTC students fared excellently in the state competition receiving 11 post-secondary SkillsUSA South Dakota Awards. Students received gold in Architectural Drafting, Technical Drafting, Welding, Welding Fabrication, and Welding Sculpture. WDTC students won the top three awards – gold, silver, and bronze – in the Architectural Drawing and Technical Drafting categories. Welding and Fabrication student Cameron Paisley went on to win silver in the national SkillsUSA Welding Sculpture competition!

WDTC was established in 1968 and is the only technical college serving the western South Dakota region. The college offers programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

Ninety-eight percent of Western Dakota Tech's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or are enlisted in the military. [*Placement information is derived from graduate surveys, faculty-collected data, placement surveys started six months after graduation, and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Overall placement rate is figured by: (responding graduates employed, continuing education, or in military service)/(responding graduates who are seeking employment). The number of program graduates are unduplicated by CIP code.]

Western Dakota Technical College faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, Western Dakota Tech students graduate ready to make a real and immediate contribution to their employers and to their communities.

For information about WDTC, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit us on the web at


SkillsUSA — a nonprofit partnership of students, instructors, and industry — ensures America has the skilled workforce it needs to stay competitive. Founded in 1965 and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education, the association serves more than 360,000-member students and instructors each year in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. This diverse talent pipeline covers 130 trades, technical and skilled service occupations, the majority STEM-related.

More than 600 corporations, trade associations, businesses and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA at the national level. SkillsUSA programs are integrated into career and technical education through a framework of personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. SkillsUSA also offers technical skill assessments and other workplace credentials.

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