Business Partner Specialist

Business Partner Specialist

Industry Partners, Pipeline Development, Upskill
  • Workforce Training
  • Strategic Planning
Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)

The Business Partner Specialist is used at Lake Area Technical Institute in northeast South Dakota to help businesses find creative ways to meet workforce demands.

  • Institutions
  • Systems
  • State Agencies
  • Institutions
  • Systems
  • State Agencies


Many businesses in South Dakota are not able to expand because they lack the skilled workforce to keep up with current demands. Couple that with the state’s low unemployment rate, number of retirements in the next 5-10 years, and number of young people available for the workforce, they won’t be able to keep up with employment projections, especially in the healthcare and advanced manufacturing fields. Employers need better, more efficient ways to access and support a skilled and competent workforce for high demand jobs. LATI is using TAA Grant funds from Rounds 3 and 4 to address this issue.

  • Increase the number of students in high demand workforce programs of study, including non-traditional students and other under-represented populations.

  • Enhance and expand industry relationships focused on increasing job placement, summer internships, and cooperative agreements.


The state of South Dakota is aware of and concentrated on developing solutions to workforce shortages. LATI is focused on being part of the solution by piloting a Business Partner Specialist position through TAA Grant funds. The Business Partner Specialist is tasked with enhancing and expanding business and industry relationships, updating the image of the healthcare and advanced manufacturing fields to provide a more accurate depiction of what these jobs entail to the public, and finding ways to increase the pipeline of skilled workers.
More defined duties of this position include:
• Promote programs of study to fill high demand jobs with non-traditional students.
• Work with businesses to identify potential entry level employees for upskilling.
• Develop an individualized training plan for businesses.
• Identify off-campus lab sties through employer partners and community facilities.
• Create a model for businesses to use to “Grow Their Own”.
• Assist with a marketing campaign to re-image jobs experiencing shortages, such as Healthcare and Advanced Manufacturing.
In December 2014, Denny Sanford and the state of South Dakota contributed $50 million towards the development of a fund to provide full ride scholarships in high-need workforce programs at SD’s technical institutes. Even though this wasn’t part of the original job description for the position, it quickly became a way for LATI to work with businesses to fill job openings with skilled workers. What evolved was LATI’s Stretch the Million program. Industry partners who support a skilled scholar with half of the total college tuition and qualifying expenses can request Build Dakota funds to be used to cover the remaining costs. The overall goal of Stretch the Million program is to add even more skilled employees, with industry support, to the critical needs workforce pipeline in SD.

The Business Partner Specialist is responsible for achieving grant activities and creating the following list of deliverables. When possible, deliverables are created as Open Educational Resources (OER) and are available for download on, the repository for TAA Grant related curriculum and program materials.
• “Grow Your Own” Business Model – this model will support training and career placement, advocate for policies that facilitate increasing the number of Advanced Manufacturing and Healthcare workers, and coordinate and align innovative partnerships of businesses, technical institutes, universities, and communities.
• Marketing Campaign Package – including brochures, pamphlets, videos, and social media designed to target grant participants and re-image the Advanced Manufacturing & Healthcare Fields.
• Individualized Training Packages – the “Grow Your Own” business model will include plans to upskill entry level employees based on individual business needs.
• Career Pathways and Prior Learning Models – these are documents showing how prior learning assessments (dual credits, test, veterans, college credit) apply to earning certificates, diplomas, Associate and Bachelor degrees.

  • Increase the enrollment of students in advanced manufacturing and healthcare programs of study by 3%.

  • Increase the number of adults earning degrees, diplomas, and other nationally recognized certificates by 2%.

Fall 2015 enrollment data indicates an increase, close to 3%, in the number of students enrolled in the TAA grant programs that are identified as high priority. There are considerably more Build Dakota Scholars applying for the 2016 awards than in 2015. We hope to see an increase in the number of adults earning degrees as a result of the TAA grant and Build Dakota Scholarship. Program instructors have noticed a more diverse and under-represented student population in their classrooms.
Based on 2014 placement information, 100% of the healthcare graduates are either employed in a training related career or continuing their employment. For the advanced manufacturing graduates, 98% are continuing their education or employed in a career-related field. Placement at LATI overall has consistently remained above 95% over the past several years. We expect that trend to continue in the future.
We were successful in finding industry support to add a cohort of practical nursing students in Huron. The Huron community paid the costs of the adjunct instructor to facilitate skills labs and tutoring for the students.
Overall, the business contacts have received a positive response. To date we have five Stretch the Million partners.

This position has been effective in recruiting healthcare workers in the Practical Nursing program and expanding the program to two additional off-campus locations. Ideas to increase internships and other on the job learning experiences are being developed, such as a mobile lab and other ways to train incumbent workers at the job site.


Personnel (new), Business/Industry Partners, Corporate Education, Training on existing DOL programs

  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits.

  • Some of the marketing methods require development and publication costs.

  • Travel costs to businesses.

  • We need to be better prepared to help businesses overcome the fact that they are in competition with each other so that we can work together to find creative ways to solve the shortage of qualified workers in healthcare and advanced manufacturing.

Our plans include researching and developing a way to help business partners find a way to examine the return on investment in upskilling entry level workers. We want to continue to develop more training solutions to expand the pipeline. Learn about existing DOL training programs and/or resources that could benefit businesses who participate in new ideas to train workers.


Build Dakota Scholarship
Applied Engineering and Stretch the Million
Credit for Prior Learning
Career Path Options - Examples

SD Department of Labor and Regulation Labor Market Info
South Dakota Workforce Initiatives – SD WINS
Governor’s Workforce Summits

Terri Cordrey
Grants Manager
Lake Area Technical Institute
1201 Arrow Avenue
PO Box 730
Watertown, South Dakota 57201
Phone: 605-882-5284 x 309

Michael Cartney
Lake Area Technical Institute
1201 Arrow Avenue
PO Box 730
Watertown, South Dakota 57201
Phone: 605-882-5284 x 224