Forward Devils Lake Corporation has introduced a new Skilled Workforce Recruitment and Retention Program to serve one of the most pressing needs in this community.

Forward Devils Lake Corporation has introduced a new Skilled Workforce Recruitment and Retention Program to serve one of the most pressing needs in this community.

From new businesses opening their doors to long standing, established business pillars of the Lake Region the story is the same no matter where you look, the biggest challenge is finding and keeping good help, especially skilled and or technical workers. Forward Devils Lake Corporation has come up with a temporary solution that could be just what the community needs.

A number of local businesses and manufacturing companies have already jumped on board lending their support to this plan that Executive Director Brad Barth describes as “out-of-the-box thinking” for Forward Devils Lake. Otter Tail Power Company, Bergstrom Auto, CHI St. Alexius Devils Lake, NDTC, Lake Region Law Enforcement Center, High Plains Equipment, Proz Lakeside and the End of the Line, MIDCO, Farmers Union Oil Co., the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center, Woodland Resort, Klementsrud Plumbing, Heating and AC, Blakes Marine, Joes Sports Center and Summers Manufacturing have all expressed interest in utilizing this program and many others are on a list to be contacted and asked to participate.

Any other local or regional business that is interested is asked to give Brad Barth a call at Forward Devils Lake 662-4933 to learn more about the program.

The Program: In this program local businesses find, recruit and sponsor a student in a one or two-year college program that meets the business workforce need and matches the student’s educational plan. The business sponsor pays 60 percent of the student’s cost of education, Forward Devils Lake pays an additional 20 percent leaving the student and his/her family approximately 20 percent. To get the 80 percent reimbursement of the education the student commits to coming back to the region to work for three years following completion of the approved program. The reimbursement of the sponsoring business and Forward Devils Lake payments would be at the end of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of employment in equal amounts. One year programs would require a two year work commitment and would be reimbursed over two years.

Some of the approved programs as we go to print are: Automotive Technician, Culinary Chef, Diesel Technician, Electrical Line-Worker, Electrical Technician, HVAC Technician, Network Technician, Information Technology, Law Enforcement/Peace Officer, Plumbing, Powersports Technician, Precision Ag Technology, Precision Machine, Ultrasound Technician and Wind Energy Technician.

Benefits: This has the potential to be a “win/win” for everyone involved. Some benefits of the program are as follows, the region has the potential to develop a larger skilled workforce. The number of local youth staying in the region following high school graduation will increase. Businesses get help from the community in recruiting their future employees. Future employers may be attracted to the area by a “proactive” community and the business sponsorships. Successful outcomes of this program should lead to less overall student loan debt for students and their families resulting in accelerated plans for housing, vehicles and families. Hopefully potential marketing exposure could help attract workers and businesses to the region. Benefits to the student and families is reduced cost of attending college, potentially up to $24,000 for two years of technical college financial assistance for a sponsored student and the promise of a higher paying job and in many cases the start of a successful career. The traditional college debt load of between $20K to $100K could be greatly diminished, if not totally removed for most sponsored students who become employees. The Devils Lake Region will see a substantial economic impact between growth of the companies involved and financial growth of student and/or employees.

“20 by 20”: Barth has set a goal for the fall of 2019 for 10 sponsored student/employees and 10 more by the fall of 2020; “20 by 20.” This goal would bring local and regional high school graduates fully aligned and sponsored with regional employers before they leave for college. Additional benefits of the program for the region would be a pipeline of future employees for our local and regional businesses to help them prosper and fuel growth potential. Local dollars for sponsorships will be better utilized and maximized to help with the Devils Lake region growth plans. Local graduates will be economically better off than others in the state of ND and nationally due to their lower and, hopefully non-existent, student debt.

Barth feels this workforce recruitment program would also help with new Primary Sector Business recruitment and serve as an additional enhancement for businesses to relocate or start their business in the Devils Lake Region. His hope is “That the program will help stop the loss of local students who go away to a two-year or four-year college only to find out they can’t get a job locally because one is not available. By better aligning the student workers of tomorrow with local and regional businesses we will create a true win/win for the students, families and businesses in the region that utilize the program."

Editor’s note: In the next installment of Local Business News, look for more in depth information and interviews with local individuals who are excited about this program.