Competing for talent with every state in the nation, North Dakota gets serious about their labor shortage with a proposed $20M up for grabs.

North Dakota boasts some 14,000-plus job openings. They pay well, and of course require a level of skill. What they don’t necessarily require is a four-year degree.

Accordingly the Economic Development Association of North Dakota is considering a bill which could create a scholarship fund to the tune of $20M with the goal of encouraging students to pursue certification programs in areas that have been flagged as 'critical need'.

Rep. Patrick Hatlestad and Sen. Brad Bekkedahl both sit on the interim taxation committee, which reviewed a draft of the proposal recently.

Half of the funding would come from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota and the other half from private industry, to create an endowment fund for full-ride scholarships.

The conditions?

Students who accept a scholarship will have to agree to stay in North Dakota 'for a time' under the proposal, according to Economic Development Association President Ellen Huber.

“The shortage of workforce in North Dakota is one of our biggest limitations,” says Economic Development Association President Ellen Huber.

“It’s a nationwide shortage — not unique to North Dakota. We’re competing for talent with every state in the nation.”

With oil prices ever changing but up trending up over the past several months, North Dakota’s labor crunch has continued to tighten, but unlike the last boom, the remainder of the US is no longer in a recession. This combined with a skeptical - if not jaded - workforce makes selling jobs in ND and indeed across the US more challenging.

“There was an article here a while back that indicated that in North Dakota only about 17 percent of the jobs available require a four-year degree,” Hatlestad said. “So that’s where we begin to stress that 2 plus 2.”