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State Continues To Gather Workforce Needs Findings

June 6, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

State Continues To Gather Workforce Needs Findings
ABERDEEN, SD -

According to the latest jobs report released Friday, employers are adding jobs across the country but unemployment remains steady. Meanwhile, here in KELOLAND, state leaders are still working to fill open positions throughout South Dakota.

The governor and others have held five workforce summits in communities across the state and have one left in Sioux Falls later this month.

Finding enough workers to fill open positions at Banner Engineering is getting tough. Its neighbors in Aberdeen's industrial park face the same challenge.

"And we're going to have to continue to look for new and different ways to let people know that we have jobs, especially in northeastern South Dakota," Richard Inman, director of manufacturing, said.

Skilled technical workers are the hardest to come by for Banner’s Aberdeen location. It's partnering with schools and has increased its internship program to try solving that issue.

"So far we're seeing results from that and we do have some people on staff in the Aberdeen plant who were interns here four and five years ago," Inman said.

That's one solution employers have been talking about at workforce summits across the state. Northern State University President James Smith can tell.

"I have more requests that come across my desk than I have ever seen before," Smith said.

And more companies are paying interns than Smith has ever seen before.

After the summits, the state has also been compiling common challenges employers face. The labor department found there aren't enough workers trained in high demand career fields and students don't know about those fields.

Companies are working with schools to change that. Smith says NSU is tailoring programs to meet demands of employers in South Dakota.

"We're trying to work with the needs of the workforce and trying to get our students to see the opportunities that are available to them out there in the world of work," Smith said.

Students are entering into one of the stronger job markets Smith has seen during his time in higher education. They can benefit from that, he says, if their skill sets match the needs in the market.

Labor officials in South Dakota will continue to compile feedback from employers and community leaders following the workforce summits. They expect to release a full report this fall.

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