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The local school districts’ initiatives to strengthen North Dakota’s workforce and integrate the trades are shared by the CTE Director



Fargo, North Dakota – A Cass County initiative is looking for methods to get recently graduated high school students hired right away.

CTE Pathway programs are offered by a number of schools in the Fargo district, including North, South, and Davies, as well as some in the West Fargo Public Schools, including West Fargo High, Horace, Central Cass, and Sheyenne. Beginning in the ninth grade, the programs give kids the opportunity to acquire the skills they’ll need for careers in high-demand industries like construction. The courses Construction Tech, Woods I and Woods II, and Building Trades I and Building Trades II are offered to students who want to start working as soon as they graduate from high school.

“Many of our students in our urban areas, they maybe take the class first and they they have an opportunity to work,” said Dr. Denise Jonas, The CTE Director of the Cass County Career & Technical Education Consortium, “[We are] working with the home builders association and many of our local contractors that have an apprenticeship program. They really do want to partner with our high school programs because of the gap we have right now with skilled employees.”

The main cause of the disparity is North Dakota’s labor scarcity. Although there were 40,000 open positions in the state as of August 16, 2023, it also had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary data, North Dakota’s unemployment rate is predicted to be 1.9%. According to North Dakota’s July 1st, 2022 population count, the state has 779,261 residents. This means that 7,943 people are unemployed as of right now, which is a significant gap between the number of open positions and the available labor force.

Many in the state understand that the state needs more workers, but there are obstacles in the way of producing the next generation of tradespeople and carpenters. Due to the significant pay disparity between teaching and the trades, Dr. Jonas believes it is difficult to find individuals who are in the middle of their careers to teach in Cass County high schools. According to her, there is a particular type of person who wants to apply their construction experience in a classroom situation.