Gov. Doug Burgum, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford and members of North Dakota’s Workforce Development Council (WDC) today released a package of proposals to address the state’s workforce challenges during a press conference on the final day of the 2022 Main Street ND Summit.
The proposals, dubbed the ND Works Investment Plan and totaling over $50 million, are based on recommendations from the WDC, which held a special meeting to discuss the proposals before today’s press conference.
“With broad representation across multiple industries and all levels of government, the Workforce Development Council is uniquely suited to recommend solutions to our workforce challenge, which remains our No. 1 barrier to economic growth,” Burgum said. “We look forward to working with the legislature to refine the ND Works Investment Plan and other proposals to address our workforce shortage and help North Dakota communities reach their full potential.”
The ND Works plan focuses on five key concepts: career exploration and preparation; addressing the technical skills gap; recruitment and retention; removing barriers to employment; and occupational licensure reform. The proposals include:
- Dedicating $20 million to a competitive Regional Workforce Impact Grant program for local governments, economic development groups, chambers, regional councils and other workforce entities working to address regional labor demands.
- Providing nearly $25 million for a strategic marketing and recruitment campaign which will include support for expanding the Find the Good Life talent attraction initiative and Job Service North Dakota virtual job fairs.
- Expanding the state’s automation tax credit with a $5 million Automation Enhancement Workforce Training Grant to support upskilling and advanced training for employers utilizing automation technologies to ease workforce challenges.
- Adding $2 million to the Technical Skills Training Grant, which since its inception in 2020 has supported the launch or expansion of nearly 30 training programs in health care, information technology, transportation, welding and more.
- Creating a job placement pilot program with nearly $750,000 to ensure that incarcerated individuals released from North Dakota’s correctional facilities are trained and connected to positions where they can succeed.
- Continue working on occupational licensure reform to identify ways to expedite the process for professional licensure in North Dakota.
“The Workforce Development Council is pleased to see our recommendations included in the Governor’s ND Works Investment plan,” WDC Chairman Dave Farnsworth said. “Throughout the last several years, the Council has informed several initiatives that are successfully impacting North Dakota’s workforce, including recommendations for area career and technology centers, talent attraction, skilled workforce training, expedited licensure for military members and spouses, and more. We look forward to working with the Governor’s Office and the legislature over next few months to continue building out this plan.”
Today’s announcement comes the day after Burgum announced the Energizing Our Communities plan, a policy framework that proposes investments of over $20 million to support community development efforts, workforce housing, recreation and vibrancy projects.
Burgum, Sanford and legislators also announced a comprehensive child care proposal in September to address the availability, affordability and quality of child care services, which continues to be a barrier to workforce participation.
Burgum and Sanford also joined with State Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus and legislators in August to propose income tax reforms that would save North Dakota taxpayers an estimated $250 million annually and establish North Dakota as the lowest flat-tax state in the nation, making the state a more attractive place to work and affordable place to live.