SIOUX FALLS, SD -
We've been reporting for the last couple of years about all the open jobs in South Dakota --many of them highly-skilled, technical jobs-- and not enough qualified people to fill them.
The "New South Dakotans" program under the state initiative "South Dakota Wins," was supposed to fix that. For the first time, the state formed a partnership with a private recruiting firm to fill jobs. But a year and a half later, fewer than 100 jobs have been filled through it.
It all started with the governor's state of the state address in 2012.
"The impact of 1,000 new welders, engineers, and machinists and accountants on our state's economy will be enormous," Gov. Dennis Daugaard said.
A recruitment plan that the governor claimed would have a $120 million impact. The state gave Manpower Recruiters a $5 million contract to fill those thousand jobs.
"I told them to take that number off the minute we won the contract," Brown said.
That's because only 95 jobs have been filled at a cost of $1 million.
"We tried the New South Dakotans program. It didn't work as well as we thought. We're still going to wind down in a responsible way," Daugaard said.
While the governor says the program is winding down, it does continue. Manpower's contract goes through May with an option to renew for another year. Daugaard has requested $500,000 to be used for the program until the money runs out.
"We'll probably move more toward the Dakota Roots program, which has been much more successful," Daugaard said.
But Clinton Brown with Manpower takes issue with the definition of success. While the number of 1,000 was a good sound bite, only 425 jobs were listed by companies with the program.
"And 200 of those were cancelled. Some because in-state people came available for the position, which is great; budgets, you name it.
Brown says for companies that are aggressive in hiring, like Trail King out of Mitchell, the program worked well. Trail King hired 65 workers.
"Hiring is not an exact science; companies learn, recruiters learn-we've submitted over 2,000 people-so the stories of employees aren't interested in coming to SD, that's inaccurate," Brown said.
Manpower still predicts a jump in jobs being filled in 2014.
"If we would just stay on the track that we are, I would say 160 to 170 more placements at the pace we are now. Hiring though for next year looks really good," Brown said.
And Manpower says if more companies would join the program, it could end stronger than anyone anticipates now.
Manpower also points out that even though the state paid more than a half million dollar management fee to the company, it still averaged out to much lower than standard recruitment fees for the industry.
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