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Regional Workforce Study Results Revealed

June 30th, 2015 by Amanda Huggett

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo area has seen substantial growth recently. With a host of new businesses and more housing, continued low unemployment and a high standard of living, there is no doubt that our region is growing strong, and our economy is thriving.

Yet, we continue to hear from local businesses a common concern: They’re not finding enough qualified candidates to fill all of the job openings.

This was the catalyst for a recent comprehensive Regional Workforce Study that five area organizations teamed up to commission. The Chamber, along with the Economic Development Corporation, Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, the FM Area Foundation and the United Way of Cass-Clay, hired consultants TIP Strategies, to study and strategize how we can collectively tackle this issue. On June 18, 2015, we held an event to highlight some of the findings and suggestions.

workforce study eventCraig Whitney addresses the Cultivate strategy at the Workforce Study presentation. Photo courtesy United Way of Cass-Clay

Among the study findings was that our region currently has over 6,700 job openings, and it is projected that over the next five years, we will see at least 30,000 new job openings.

As proof that our job market is booming, consider that the number of jobs in the area increased by 24% in the past 10 years, but there was only a 5% increase in the total number of jobs in the U.S. in the same period. We expect the regional economy to grow another 7.6% in the upcoming five years.

The study also found that the top 25 fields of study at our area’s higher education institutions do not reflect the current demand by area employers. The occupational groups with the highest demand in our region are hospitality and tourism, business, marketing, health science and transportation; but the top fields of study are nursing, business and management, liberal arts, educations and psychology.

Around the country, employers are facing challenges filling job needs. What makes our situation unique is that unlike most other areas, we have considerably lower unemployment and higher workforce participation rates. We also have an 11-county area of commuters coming into the region, adding to our workforce.

The study suggests four main pillars to serve as a framework for action:

  • Cultivate: We know that we have to cultivate current residents to participate in the workforce. This includes retaining graduates to work in Fargo Moorhead West Fargo after their education.
  • Attract: We need to work harder at making our region an appealing place to others. To bring new talent into the region, we must build awareness of what our community has to offer.
  • Build: We can strengthen our current infrastructure to make it easier for people to be able to work, including providing more opportunities for lower-income individuals.
  • Innovate: We should encourage the development of additional solutions to address these challenges, including technological and social initiatives across the area.

Since then, we’ve added a fifth pillar: Legislate. We believe legislation must also reflect the current business and workforce needs, and we hope to help champion the causes needed to move this forward.

Going forward, each of the five organizations will work with committees on each of these pillars to discuss, further strategize and attempt to resolve this gap.

We have posted the full report to our website that goes in even greater depth to the research that was conducted.





*Update as of June 30, 2016: An update event was held to reveal efforts from the past year and to unveil our action plan for moving forward. Find all of those details in THIS new post.

**Update as of July 2017: We recently hosted an Eggs & Issues event to learn more about the Career Academy, which is designed to help address one of the key issues in our workforce shortage. Learn more in this blog recap.


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