SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO)–Building up the workforce has been a goal of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation for years, but since the pandemic, that need has been even greater.

In tonight’s Your Money Matters, how the WIN in Workforce Summit is working to address the workforce needs in the Sioux Falls community.

“I’m a junior at Roosevelt and I’m interested in the healthcare field,” one student said during a lunch and learn session.

“We’re trying to work with youth and employers to try and connect them,” Steve Kolbeck, Principal Manager for Xcel Energy South Dakota and Chairman of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s executive board said. 

That’s the main goal of the WIN in Workforce Summit, bringing together hundreds of the region’s largest employers right alongside college and high school students in the community.

“It’s really important to have the students here, they need to have a seat at the table, they need to hear what’s going on in the community and be invested in what they want this community to be,” Denise Guzzetta, the Vice President of Talent & Workforce Development and the Sioux Falls Development Foundation said.

“Our company was started 20 years ago,” Kurt Loudenback, the CEO of Grand Prairie Foods said during a panel discussion at the WIN Summitt. 

Wednesday those students had a chance to hear directly from CEOs and other executives about some of the biggest issues in the workforce.

“This year we’re tackling AI, we’re tackling cyber, we’re tackling childcare, inflation, we’re talking about the future of work and what that looks like as far as where people are working physically like the spaces that they’re in or maybe even remotely,” Guzzetta said.

Issues that have always been a challenge in building the workforce, but since the pandemic, have made hiring even harder for many organizations.

“The hours that people have to come in have changed, the work environment has changed, a little of the online vs in person going on right now. All of those things mixed up has made it very difficult to fill our positions,” Kolbeck said.

Positions that many companies need now more than ever.

“Right now it is, we have some retirements going on, a lot of our linemen are phasing out and retiring,” Kolbeck said.

It’s what makes connecting with the next generation of workers at events like the WIN Summit so important for community and industry leaders in Sioux Falls. 

“It takes all of us, from our students to our educators to our community and business leaders, we’re all in this together,” Guzzetta said.

This was the 6th annual WIN in Workforce summit. The event broke a new attendance record this year with 600 people attending the event in person and another 200 people joining the conversation virtually.