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Workforce Legislative Update

With the 2015 Legislative session coming to an end, the Workforce Division will focus its efforts moving forward with new and continuing programs. Along with lower revenue forecasts, came lowered appropriations with a number of Commerce’s current programs. The following gives an overview of workforce programs assigned to the Department of Commerce along with 2015-17 appropriation levels. 

Operation Intern
Funding for Operation Intern remained at the 2013-15 level at $1.5 million.  The Operation Intern encourages employers to use an internship program as a recruiting tool.  The program reimburses 50% of the wages paid to interns up to $3000 per intern per term. 

Educators and Industry Externships
$50,000 was added to the Operation Intern Program to develop an Educators and Industry Externship program. These funds will be used to assist employers in hosting an educator “extern”.  The educator would receive a $2000 stipend to complete the experience at a participating employer. The employer would be reimbursed $1000.  The educator will then be required to apply what they learned during their experience into their curriculum.

Workforce Enhancement Grants
The Workforce Enhancement Grant Program provides funding for a demand driven response to workforce training needs through:
  • Development of curriculum.
  • Purchase of equipment and technology.
  • Recruitment of participants.
  • Training and certification for instructors (may not be used to supplant funding for current operations).
These funds are granted to one of the four higher education training institutions in the state and require a dollar for dollar industry match.  The appropriation reduced from $2 million in the 2013-15 biennium to $1 million for 2015-17.

Tribal College Grants
The Tribal College Grant program was established during the 2013 Legislative Session to provide funding to the five tribally controlled community colleges for workforce training and entrepreneurial assistance.  This is done through:
  • Development of curriculum.
  • Purchase of equipment and technology.
  • Faculty training.
  • Student recruitment.
  • Facility renovation to develop, expand, or redesign a program
Eligible institutions include Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Berthold Community College, Sitting Bull College, Turtle Mountain Community College, and United Tribes Technical College. The 2015-17 appropriation of $3 million is a reduction from the $5 million 2013-15 allocation.

Rural Health Services Grant
$200,000 was appropriated to Commerce to grant funds to the two Area Health Education Centers or AHEC.  The mission of AHEC is to enhance access to quality primary care and public health in rural North Dakota, by improving the supply of health care professionals through community and academic partnerships. This funding was reduced from the 2013-15 level of $400,000

Workforce Recruitment Campaign – Find the Good Life
In an effort to recruit workforce from other states to North Dakota, the Commerce Department requested funds to continue the Find the Good Life in North Dakota initiative.  Commerce received $300,000 for Find the Good Life which will require private sector matching funds.

Early Childhood Education Grant
The Commerce Workforce Division will be administering an Early Childhood Education Grant for the 2015-17 biennium.  These funds will be granted to Early Childhood Education providers who are serving four year old children that qualify for free or reduced lunches.  A total of $3 million in grants will be awarded starting in July 2016.
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