High school, college students learn skills, find jobs through public-private internship program

WIN Industry Spotlight: Malloy Electric

It was senior year, and Josh Olson was feeling nervous about his future.


“It kind of snuck up on me,” the Washington High School student said. “I didn’t know what I really wanted to do after high school.”


A conversation with staff at the Career and Technical Education Academy led him to an internship at Malloy. He started in January, in a role that allowed him to look into the electrical and engineering fields.


“It seemed like a good place to test the waters,” he said. “They had me do a little bit of everything.”


That’s the idea behind a new state program that brought industry together with the South Dakota governor’s office, department of labor and regulation and department of education.


Called Career Launch, it connects high school students with internships in everything from welding to health care.


Gov. Dennis Daugaard was inspired to ramp up the effort when he became chairman of the Western Governors Association last year and chose workforce development as the group’s collective effort.


“We’ve got people looking for jobs, job openings, but the skill sets people have don’t fit what employers need, so we’re trying to figure out ways we can address that,” he said.


It’s been a terrific fit for Malloy, which needs incoming workers to maintain and grow its operation. A key player in the motor, control and power transmission industry, its employees test, repair and rebuild the largest sizes of electric motors and industrial equipment. 


CEO Chris Houwman credits the state program with removing barriers to his business offering internship opportunities to high schoolers, easing restrictions on the work students can do and offering school credit for it.


“The governor and the department of labor and education have come together to knock a lot of those barriers down,” he said. “They came together and listened to what industry needs and what workforce needs and they delivered.”


The program meets the following goals, Daugaard said:


  • Improve the youth labor participation rate
  • Teach foundational skills like being on time, teamwork and customer service
  • Taste test jobs, so students don’t spend time and money training for an occupation that’s not a fit
  • Build valuable skills that can be applied within one or multiple industries


For Olson, the internship has been an unqualified success. He recently graduated and will be working full time this summer at Malloy. He’s decided he wants to work a couple years, then go to school.


“Just being here so much, I realized how good of a company this actually is. They were all super nice, super respectful,” he said.


Right behind him is Malloy’s next high school prospect. Tycho Clausen is an Eagle Scout and incoming senior at O’Gorman High School whose father encouraged him to intern at Malloy and consider becoming an electrician.


“It sounded like a good idea and I’ve been enjoying it,” he said. “It’s like putting together Erector sets, so it’s enjoyable.”


His plan is to continue working at Malloy part-time next school year and attend Southeast Tech after graduation.


“He’s going down the path of an electrical program at Southeast Tech, and we have a scholarship he will be involved with,” Houwman said.


“If we want to expand, want to grow and be successful in the market, we recognize we have to invest in our youth and invest in scholarships and get involved. I can’t stress enough employers have to get involved if they want to be successful.”


Success story: Eli Huber


Eli Huber knew he wanted a career that allowed him to work with his hands as well as his head.


“It’s just a sense of pride when you can built a part of fix something and say, ‘Yeah, I did that.’ It’s a sense of accomplishment and pride.”


The Menno, S.D., native, got connected to Malloy at Lake Area Tech. Malloy helped fund his full-ride Build Dakota scholarship in partnership with the state of South Dakota and philanthropist Denny Sanford, who helped launch the program several years ago.


After his first year learning precision machining, Huber is working this summer at Malloy.


“The team’s been great,” he said. “The guys I work with are awesome. They let me borrow their tools, and they’re always willing to help.”


“Eli has been doing a phenomenal job,” CEO Chris Houwman said. “When he graduates, he’ll be working as a machinist at Malloy.” 


Daugaard calls Build Dakota “a phenomenal success” with more applicants than scholarships.


“Happily many employers are stepping up and adding to that,” he said. 


Student required to work in the field for three years or for the specific employer that funded the scholarship.


Workforce Training: The Sioux Falls Advantage

There is better training for our workforce in Sioux Falls. A multitude of options are available to meet businesses' needs at the postsecondary level including city programs, state grants, technical training, and a new $50 million scholarship program for technical school students.

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