Letter: Southwest portion of North Dakota needs more workforce training
As everybody knows, Dickinson and west river North Dakota is in the midst of an unprecedented boom fueled by the Bakken oil extraction.
The boom has manifested itself in many ways including many job opportunities directly in the Oil Patch. However, the boom has also demonstrated a need for communities to deal with such issues as infrastructure deterioration, housing shortages, an increase in crime and a greater demand on health care facilities and first responders.
Whether it be for construction or societal needs, the demand for a skilled workforce has increased dramatically. Jobs and opportunities are readily available if one has the skills. Truck driving jobs go wanting because there are not enough people with certified driver’s licenses. Welding is in high demand as is medical technology. And, there is an acknowledged shortage of law enforcement professionals in all of western North Dakota whether it be at the county, municipal or state levels.
Dickinson is fortunate to have a university. However, because of State Board of Higher Education guidelines and policies, Dickinson State University is prevented from offering the curriculum needed for workforce training in the areas mentioned above and others.
In the mid 1990s, the prevailing thought from the SBHE was that the two-year colleges could provide this type of training. DSU and other four-year colleges would provide “workforce development” through bachelor degrees only. Bismarck State College was assigned the southwestern quadrant of the state for workforce training. However, to date, BSC has been too consumed with programming for its own growing community and has invested time and energy into its specialized programs such as power plant supervision. Therefore, very little has been done to bring training programs to Dickinson by BSC. Indeed, as I write this editorial, it appears that a certified driver license program which DSU has worked for months to bring to the community, is stalled by the board office and other vested interests in the name of “following the guidelines.”
I worked for more than 20 years as a DSU administrator and I am currently a candidate for District 36 state senator.
If elected, I pledge to work hard to change the State Board of Higher Education guidelines to allow DSU to offer these programs which will meet our pressing workforce needs, keep our young people here in southwestern North Dakota and provide them with immediate job opportunities and future careers.
Rich Brauhn, Dickinson, Democrat, NPL District 36 Senate candidate