At the very least, the departure of Josh Svatos as president of Yankton’s Regional Technical Education Center (RTEC) provides an opportunity to reflect again on the importance of this facility to the area economy.

Svatos has served as the president of RTEC for 12 years, and during that time, he has helped the facility spread its wings as a hub for technical education and an important feeder system for local manufacturers.

And there is, indeed, immense value in that.

It’s important to consider that value amid the growing workforce challenges that Yankton — and practically every community across America — face today.

At its core, the facility has helped retrain workers who have lost their jobs, giving them new skills that could be used in the manufacturing sector.

Now, workers in general are so much harder to come by, especially workers who have the skills that local factories need. RTEC is devoted to training these potential workers, no matter what their age. Its mission statement on its website declares: “Sparking our community’s future, one student at a time. RTEC has a dedicated mission to home grow our workforce through cutting edge career & technical education.”

That means training prospective workers in the latest techniques of welding or electronics, for instance. It’s about not only learning a skill, but also about staying relevant with the demands of the workplace.

It also means introducing young students, searching for possible career paths, to the possibilities and benefits that can be found in technical industries.

And, above all, it means deepening the local labor pool for manufacturers, whose ability to have enough workers on hand can literally mean the difference between growth or austerity.

RTEC has been a big local player in that.

And Svatos has been one of the key cogs in making that happen. He has been an enthusiastic and relentless promoter of technical education in this community, and has helped lead RTEC’s outreach to students in the Yankton School District as well as to students throughout the region. That means a lot for those students, and in turn, it potentially means a lot for the area economy.

The RTEC board will now work to find a replacement for Svatos (who will still be on hand to help with the transition). But he is leaving behind some big shoes to fill, as well as a terrific standard to emulate.


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