The Roundup -

McKenzie County Community Leaders Develop Vision For Workforce Development


December 16, 2020 | View PDF

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Watford City is in the beginning stages of developing an idea of something that would amplify workforce recruitment and retention in McKenzie County. 

To get a better idea of how to implement something like this, 16 community leaders including industry, McKenzie County, City of Watford City, and School District representatives loaded up on a bus to tour the Bismarck Career Academy and Technical Center on Thursday, Dec. 10.  

"Everyone has a little bit of a different perspective on what we need here in McKenzie County and it will take coordination from a lot of different areas, so that is why we wanted several different folks there so they could see it and think from their perspective what we would be able to do in McKenzie County to fulfill that workforce development need," Daniel Steinberg, McKenzie County Economic Development Coordinator.

For over 30 years, the Bismarck Career Academy and Technical Center has been providing its students with quality education in career and technical programs including high wage, high-demand technical training, academic integration, and alignment with post-secondary education. The coursework offered at the center is aligned with specific career paths, such as family and consumer science, information technology, nursing, welding, and business/marketing education. 

"Here in McKenzie County we are trying to figure out ways to increase more training opportunities for our residents - if people can get the training done locally, they won't have to move away from the community. Something like a Career Academy and Technical Center would really help with workforce retention, especially if someone wants to increase their skills to get a new job or better pay at their current job. If they can do that here, then it would benefit both our citizens and the employers," stated Steinberg.

Steinberg explained that McKenzie County is just in the "information gathering" point as of now. 

He said, "We have no specific plans right now, but we have been talking to area employers on what would be the most necessary training to offer. We are finding that nursing, automation, and trades would be among the highest needs for our area employers."

McKenzie County's Career Academy and Technical Center would be a little different from that of Bismarck. "We would need it to meet our unique circumstances here in McKenzie County. We would want to make sure that we have the incumbent worker-not just for high school students, but maybe someone who just wants to add to their credentials- like a welding certificate or a CNA license."

A program like this would not only benefit youth with career exploration and training, it would also help adults, as well. Steinberg said, "We want to make sure that this is applicable for high school students and beyond."


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