Students: We want flexible employmentJAMESTOWN — Students and young professionals said a flexible work environment would make them want to work and live in North Dakota at a focus group meeting between them and members of the North Dakota Legislative Council.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
JAMESTOWN — Students and young professionals said a flexible work environment would make them want to work and live in North Dakota at a focus group meeting between them and members of the North Dakota Legislative Council.
State lawmakers met with high school seniors, college students and young professionals at Jamestown College Wednesday to discuss what would keep young people working in North Dakota.
About 10,000 jobs are open in North Dakota, said Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, and with schools declining in enrollment and baby boomers retiring, the state is looking for ways to retain its young people and attract employees from out of state.
“These issues are real,” Grindberg said.
Students and young professionals developed ideas relating to what employers, individuals, schools and government can change and then rated which ideas they thought were best.
About 25 young people as well as about 50 senators, representatives and business professionals attended the focus group.
The young people rated a flexible work environment, one where aspects like hours and work location could vary, as their top choice.
Other ideas generated by the group included improving college and career guidance, state reimbursement for higher education expenses, employer-education partnerships to repay school loans and incentives to develop economies in rural areas.
“I think we got some ideas here that we can stir up a little bit,” said Shane Goettle, Commissioner of Commerce.
Goettle said workforce shortages are the No. 1 issue in North Dakota, but those shortages give young people opportunities.
“If we’re going to have an issue, this is a good one to have,” he said.
Today, the North Dakota Legislative Council will overview the ideas from Wednesday’s meeting as well as ideas from meetings held in February with business leaders in the private sector.
“They’re (young people) the stakeholders,” said Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown. “They’re the ones we’re planning for.”
Population in the state hit its peak in 1930, said Roy Vanderford, a consultant from Thomas P. Miller and Associates an Indiana-based economic development and workforce strategies consulting firm, who facilitated the meeting, and North Dakota is the “epicenter” of U.S. population loss.
Bob Badal, president of Jamestown College, said JC gains employees for the state.
About 62 percent of graduates remain and work in North Dakota, according to a survey taken by students six months after they graduated, Badal said.
Of the students at Jamestown College, about 55 percent of them are not from North Dakota, he said.
The Workforce Committee meets today in Bismarck.
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