A resounding theme in meetings this week with the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation was the workforce shortage and struggle to fill open positions.
It’s not a problem exclusive to Fargo, and the solutions the city is developing are similar to those being implemented around the country. A recent study of the Fargo-Moorhead area showed the cities have 6,500 job vacancies. Fargo has a great economy, is experiencing growth in many sectors, but doesn’t have enough trained people for the jobs available.
A recent meeting with a Grand Forks-based engineering and architecture firm addressed the same issue.
Where does the solution start? Is it keeping college students around by offering good, high-paying jobs when they graduate? Is it simply a matter of communicating to college students that our communities can offer them the big jobs with John Deere, Microsoft, Case, Sanford and other major brands?
I attended a business advisory committee meeting at the Grand Forks Herald a few months ago that raised the question of whether University of North Dakota students are aware of job and internship opportunities the city’s businesses can offer. The answer seemed to be “No.”
That’s a fundamental problem. We’re not showing fresh, ambitious college graduates their dream job could be here and they don’t have to move to larger cities to live a comfortable professional life. Admittedly, I didn’t think I would stay in Grand Forks after college, but an internship with the Herald led to a full-time job after graduation and other opportunities dovetailed off that job.
Grand Forks and Fargo have great opportunities. We’re college towns, but we’re professional towns, too.
And who wouldn’t want to stick around and continue to cheer on the Bison or the Fighting Hawks?