New RTEC Scholarship Opportunities for Welders

16 Apr 2018


By 2020, the American Welding Society reports there will be a significant shortage of welders in the U.S—an estimated 290,000 welding jobs will be unfilled.

The Regional Technical Education Center (RTEC) in Yankton has been proactively preparing for this inevitable problem.

weldersThe school is training 50-60 new students per year to meet the huge demand for welders in the community.  RTEC offers Basic Welding and Skill Upgrade courses. It operates one of the two American Welding Society (AWS) Accredited Test Facilities in South Dakota and has a new welding scholarship program to ensure the cost of training isn’t a barrier.

“There are so many welding openings in manufacturing right now. The scholarship enables us to go out and recruit more students to put a dent in the number of open welding positions,” says Josh Svatos, RTEC president and general manager.

Any interested high school student or working age adult can apply for the scholarship. RTEC matches applicants with employers that can cover course expenses — and if all goes well, ultimately offer students a welding career. Email Josh Svatos for more information, or call RTEC at (605) 668-5700.

RTEC Trailer Since 2004, RTEC has worked to provide high quality, accessible, affordable technical education and training opportunities to enhance the ability of individuals to obtain and retain employment. “We’re dedicated to home growing our workforce,” says Svatos.

Around the start of the new millennium, two large Yankton employers, Aalf’s Manufacturing and Gurney Seed & Nursery, closed. A group of forward thinking local industry and community leaders recognized the need for technical training to ensure a skilled workforce in the area. They decided to turn this challenge into an opportunity.

Initially, developing a Yankton satellite for Southeast Technical Institute helped fill this need. RTEC eventually took its place. The nonprofit technical education organization is unique in that it doesn’t receive state or federal funding. Tuition and partnerships with businesses help fund programs and scholarships.

“RTEC is predicated on partnerships. We need those to make it work,” says Svatos, noting, “There’s no ‘I’ in the word ‘team.’”

In addition to its regular technical education offerings, RTEC offers custom-designed, on-demand training to area employers. “If a company calls us up and says, they need some skill upgrades for welding, we can design a course based on how much time they can free up,” says Svatos. “We can either hold it here or at their site.”

Many area high school graduates are participating in the welding programs. Once they’ve completed the coursework, they can choose to go on for additional education at a technical institute or community college or go straight to work.

Svatos says local welding job opportunities are guaranteed, with close to 100 percent placement. “If you want to go to work, you’re going to go to work.”