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Posted 3/28/18 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

As the number of jobs in McKenzie County continues to grow with the growth of the oil industry, the need for having a trained workforce has never been more important. Without a trained local workforce, those good-paying jobs go unfilled or industry is forced to try to recruit trained employees to this area.
It is not just the oil and gas industries that are seeking trained employees. So are many other area businesses that are looking to hire workers with specific training or to provide their employees with the  opportunity to receive additional training.
While having the opportunity to have training available, it is critical that those training opportunities be made available close to where the workers and businesses are. That means that those training opportunities have to be in Watford City.
And that is where the McKenzie County Skills Initiative, TrainND, Williston State College, the University of Mary’s Watford City campus and Watford City High School are stepping up to bring those educational opportunities to area residents.
This week, the McKenzie County Farmer is carrying a story on a new program being offered at Watford City High School where high school students can receive training for obtaining their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The school is using a simulator that is on loan from TrainND, which is on the campus of Williston State College.
Having a CDL is an essential requirement if someone wants to be employed as a truck driver in the state’s oil patch. And as every trucking company will tell you, it can be very difficult to recruit long-term truck drivers to Watford City and western North Dakota.
The better option is to provide local training to high school students or other local residents who want to live and work in the area.
But providing CDL training is just one example of the type of training that is needed locally.
Another is the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems need for Certified Nursing Assistants, which TrainND is now offering classes for.
The list of training and educational needs in the community goes on and on. There is a need for people trained in plumbing and electrical work, welding, and construction. There is a need for advanced educational opportunities for people looking to complete their college degrees without being forced to travel out of the area.
While some of those opportunities now exist, it will be because of the efforts of the McKenzie County Skills Initiative, TrainND, Williston State College, the University of Mary’s Watford City campus and Watford City High School that more and more programs will be forthcoming in the next several years.
Providing the necessary training for the jobs that are available in Watford City and McKenzie County is a win-win for everyone. First, people living in the area, who are looking for specialized training, will be able to get it and land the jobs that will keep them in the community. And second, the businesses that need a stable workforce will be able to hire locally, trained workers.