South Dakota officials say they're taking tangible steps toward helping relieve the shortage of qualified workers, including funding community initiatives and re-examining how to connect job-seekers and employers.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard released his workforce summit report this week. It said South Dakota faces a labor supply shortage of industries that require considerable training, and that industries requiring less-qualified workers have too many from which to choose.
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Secretary of Labor Marcia Hultman said Wednesday that the report, which lays out ways businesses, communities, educators and government can find more employment for South Dakota residents, will help local communities come up with plans to address the shortages.
In addition, Hultman said, Daugaard has set aside $1 million in state future funds to help finance initiatives, but communities must first bring a detailed plan to the council and be willing to match any state funding they receive.
"So communities, as they're looking at their assessments, can say 'Oh, one of those strategies really works for us,' or they can come up with their own," Hultman said, referencing the 19 suggested strategies that communities can use to help fill local labor shortages.
Community leaders can then use one of those to build an action plan that they'll present at the state's Workforce Summit Development Council in December.
Al Heuton, the director of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, said groups in his town have been trying to figure out how get more qualified workers in the community for years. The area is in need of welders and technicians, as well as financial personnel, such as accountants.
He expects the community will present its workforce initiatives to the council and request funding, though it isn't clear what specific idea they'll push. He said that it could include the South Dakota Education Campus, which provides workforce training and community education classes in the Brookings area.
"Continuing to grow that program will be a big part of what we're looking at the on training side," Heuton said.
Hultman said the Department of Labor will begin to re-evaluate how it lists available positions on its website. The department's job portal currently lists types of jobs, and Hultman said she wants to change that so employees aren't ignoring jobs that could be a good fit for them.
"What we really want to do is not just list the job title, but list "Here are all the types and skills an individual would need to fulfill that job,'" she said.