Mitchell Technical College Graduates Continue Success

For the fifth year in a row, 99 percent of Mitchell Technical College alumni are reporting what officials deem successful outcomes within six months of graduation.

Janet Greenway, Director of Career Services at Mitchell Tech, conducted the survey of 2022 graduates. Results will be reported to the South Dakota Board of Technical Education at their next meeting.

Of the college’s 466 graduates, 45 reported that they had continued their education, were serving full-time in the military, or were not seeking full-time employment at the time. Six students did not respond to the survey. Of the remaining 416, 415 reported that they are employed full-time, with 95 percent employed in a training-related career.

“The positive outcomes are great news for our current and prospective students. The skills learned at Mitchell Tech are in high demand, and our programs prepare students well for the labor market,” Greenway said, adding that “individuals sometimes make the decision to work in a career that is not related to their education because the offer either fits their personal situation better, is simply ‘just too good to turn down’ or there is an opportunity to return to the family farm. Although these positions may not be considered ‘related’ to their education, these graduates are typically very satisfied with their particular outcome.”

But the trend puts pressure on employers looking to hire MTC graduates to start the recruiting process early.

“This is a laborer’s market,” Greenway said. “There is a much larger workforce need for our skilled students compared to the number of students graduating, so they can be selective on where they go to work.”

That is evident in graduates’ starting wages, which averaged $24.86, up $3 per hour over the 2021 average. Six graduates were earning at least $38 per hour.

Greenway said the “laborer’s market” has changed the way companies recruit graduates. “Employers are beginning to realize that they need to start the recruiting process earlier. They can’t wait until April to call or to post an open position to MTC’s employer portal, because 75 percent of our students are committed to either an employer or to continued education before then. We have some employers who are making arrangements to get in front of our students already in September,” she said.

As a result, some instructors have had to become creative in how they accommodate industry partners’ requests for opportunities to engage with students.

“There are so many employers wanting time in front of the class that instructors can’t always take that time away from class,” Greenway said. “Some programs are having employers prerecord their pitch, to be played when class time allows and uploading them into (the college’s intranet) so that students can access them at any time later.”

The college also hosts an agricultural career fair each fall, followed by an energy and general career fair in the winter, and a separate health care career fair is being considered, Greenway said.

Each spring, MTC also conducts an annual early outcomes survey of its outgoing graduates. Prior to May 5, 82 percent of this spring’s graduates reported having accepted employment or planning to continue their education.