Wednesday, August 9, 2023 - 02:45 pm

FARGO, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today highlighted progress North Dakota is making in addressing the state’s workforce challenges during the National Governors Association’s (NGA) 2023 Summer Workforce Symposium in Fargo.

In a fireside chat with Tim Blute, director of the NGA Center for Best Practices, Burgum noted the state legislature passed and he signed several major workforce-related bills last spring. The legislation included 12 of the 14 recommendations and endorsements from the state’s Workforce Development Council, which was restructured by Burgum and has representation from state and local government, the private sector, labor, and K-12, higher education and career and technical education.

“The beautiful thing in our state is that we actually get all the people around the table and they all row in the same direction,” Burgum said during the symposium, attended by government and private sector officials from over two dozen states at the Microsoft Fargo campus. “We turned the dial this year.”

The legislation included:

  • $66 million to support child care services as a critical component in alleviating the state’s labor shortage, with a focus on the quality, affordability and availability of child care.
  • $12.5 million for the Regional Workforce Impact Grant (RWIP) program, which is supporting 63 projects statewide including skilled workforce training, career exploration, expansion of career and technical education offerings, affordable housing, talent attraction, child care and more.
  • $12 million to expand the Find the Good Life talent attraction initiative.
  • $2 million for skilled workforce training, $1 million to support internships and $2 million for new American workforce training grants.

Burgum and Blute also discussed the role of artificial intelligence in the workforce, with the governor saying productivity gains from AI could become a competitive advantage for the United States, as well as the importance of equipping K-12 students with technology skills to set them up for success in the workforce. Burgum noted a bill approved last spring made North Dakota the first state in the nation to approve legislation requiring cybersecurity education.

The NGA Center for Best Practices is hosting the Summer Workforce Symposium of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships and the National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs Tuesday through Thursday in Fargo. 

The symposium brings together state workforce development leaders who carry out their governor’s vision for workforce development policy, strategic investment, and the administration and oversight of federal and state workforce programs. Symposium programming offers these leaders opportunities to share challenges and best practices with one another and engage in solutions-oriented dialogue with subject matter experts, business and nonprofit partners, and policymakers across all levels of government.

North Dakota was one of six states selected in 2021 for the second phase of NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network, in which states worked to deploy cross-agency teams to identify and implement strategies that advance digital skill development and more equitable economic participation.