JSND provides workforce and unemployment services across the state through nine different Workforce Centers, as well as their central location in Bismarck, ND. JSND offers a variety of services for both job seekers and employers. JSND has its roots in the Social Security Act of 1935 when Congress established unemployment insurance as part of an employment security system designed to provide an economic safety net during the height of the Depression.
Since then, the service organization has broadened its mission to involve all areas of workforce development including individuals, businesses, and community leaders. I sat down with Carey Fry, Fargo Workforce Center Manager, and Amy Arenz, Bismarck Workforce Center Manager, to discuss JSND’s origins, its impact on the state, and much more.
About Carey, Fargo Workforce Center Manager: “22 years ago, I started working in the Job Opportunity and Basic Skills (JOBS) Program, which is a program that’s attached to receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). When someone applies for a public assistance program such as TANF, they are referred to JSND to participate with us in skill training and assistance from us in getting them to a more self-sufficient place.”
About Amy Arenz, Bismarck Workforce Center Manager: “In 2009, I began as a temp in the Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) program, which works with unemployed individuals to find employment. Over the years, I’ve gradually moved up to become the office manager of the Bismarck Workforce Center.”
Job Service ND aims to provide the opportunity for North Dakota residents to improve their job skills and help with career exploration. They do so by sitting down with people in need, getting to know who they are and what they want to be, then mapping out a course of action to do so.
“We work with older youth, adults, or anyone who’s been laid off or fired from a job to get them the help they need. There’s a wide variety of things that they can get training in. We fund training in over 79 different occupations in North Dakota. Currently, we’re helping about 170 people with training, the majority of which are in the healthcare/nursing industry,” Fry said.
“[Job Service ND] is a great program. We do a lot of outreach across the state, as each of our offices covers a number of counties. We offer everything from career readiness and helping with resumes to cover letters and interview skills training. We have five different workshops that we do to cover interview skills, resume preparation, how to fill out applications, and how to look out for job scams,” Arenz said.
The aforementioned workshops are far from the only method of outreach that JSND takes pride in. On the first Wednesday of every month, JSND holds a “Workforce Wednesday” hiring event across their locations. During the event, companies currently hiring will come into JSND’s office and offer people a chance. Furthermore, JSND employees will oftentimes go to North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (NDDOCR) facilities and hold various classes and presentations.
“We do industry-wide and community-wide job fairs regularly throughout the year at our bigger offices in Grand Forks, Bismarck, Minot, Dickinson, and Fargo. Our Bismarck office is responsible for 10 counties, so we do a lot of outreach and help connect employers and employee hopefuls,” Fry said. “We can see anywhere from 300 to 500 applicants come in looking for work, and 50 to 150 employers are looking for workers at those events, so it’s amazing to bridge both sides of the workforce coming together. We also work with businesses to discuss labor market information, such as what they should be paying. We have a lot of data that will show someone what their competitors would be paying someone to do that same job.”
One of their largest annual events, the Second Chance Job Fair, took place previously in June. At this event, employers come to give individuals who have faced, or still do face, significant barriers to employment. Five of JSND’s offices participate simultaneously across North Dakota.
JSND Success Story
“JSND provides regular workshops to justice-involved individuals within North Dakota’s correctional facilities, assisting them in their transition from incarceration to become contributing members of the state’s workforce. In November 2022, JSND staff delivered a workshop to 20 inmates at the James River Minimum Unit (JRMU)/James River Correctional Center (JRCC) facility in preparation for a job fair that was to follow. Topics covered included interview goals and strategies, preparation tips, greetings and introductions, do’s and don’ts, and much more. Following the presentation, staff recommended that, upon their release, inmates stop by their local JSND offices for additional assistance with job searching. In January 2023, Karl, a former inmate at JRMU, stopped by JSND-Fargo for assistance with his resume. He participated in the November 2022 workshop and introduced himself to some of the JSND employees he recognized from the workshop. Karl was then provided with additional resumes, job searching, and job application assistance. The very next day, Karl phoned the JSND-Fargo office to share that he had accepted a maintenance position that paid $28/hour with full benefits. Staff at JSNDFargo joined Karl in celebrating his excitement over his new job offer. It is success stories like these that make for very exciting days at JSND.”
Provided by Job Service ND
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
“Assisting people with training through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is an important part of the work we do at Job Service North Dakota. WIOA is designed to assist people to access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the work world. It also helps to match employers with the skilled workers they need.
“Job seekers visiting a Workforce Center receive skill assessment, career counseling, and labor market information. Job Service staff recommend on-site development tools to help improve an individual’s interviewing skills, soft skills, and computer skills. Staff also recommend short-term industry training or degree programs through WIOA services and other partner referrals.
“During the most recent year, we helped 604 people throughout the state with their training needs. This included training in the following targeted industries: energy, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and technology. More than 39% of that training was in the transportation industry and 25% in healthcare.
“At the Fargo Workforce Center, 104 people are enrolled in WIOAfunded training. This training includes classroom training, on-the-job training (OJT), and paid work experience for adults and youth ages 16-24. Upon completion, they are entering the Fargo-Moorhead area workforce with skills to meet the current needs of employers. We partner with training providers in our area including ND State College of Science, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Lynnes Welding Training Inc, and Commercial Education and Safety LLC. The list of occupations we are able to fund and a full list of training providers can be found on our website jobsnd.com.”
Top 10 In-Demand Occupational Groups (In Openings)
3,500 (Practitioners and Support Openings Combined)
Food Prep and Serving
Computer and Math
WIOA Success Story
Lt. Governor Tammy Miller using a Career View XR virtual headset from JSND and Be More Colorful to view a wind turbine technician job shadow experience. JSND has headsets in both Bismarck and Fargo that showcase virtual job shadows of North Dakota businesses with occupations on the in-demand occupations list. Through this, they are able to show what it is like to be on top of a wind turbine, which is something not possible in an in-person job shadow. It also allows individuals to view multiple job shadows to learn about different occupations or industries in a shorter amount of time.
“We’re heavily advertising that it’s that “second chance,” whether there was an injustice, or they’re simply looking for a different career opportunity. People on work release are able to come to the job fair as well. They come dressed for success and ready to meet employers, and it’s great to make that happen,” Arenz said.
“The employers come here knowing that this is about hiring somebody that could use a step up. Ultimately, employers are willing to give people a second chance at employment, and we’re happy to bridge those groups together.”
No matter the employer’s needs or potential employee’s past, Job Service ND is looking to make a change across the entire state in any way possible. As they strive to lower the unemployment rate and fill jobs across North Dakota, the impact being made through job fairs, training sessions, and other opportunities is immeasurable.
“For me, this job is about giving people all the tools, resources, and knowledge they need in order to become independent. I thoroughly enjoy being there to help people take that next step to be self-sufficient and successful. My heart has always been in serving the public and getting people to a better spot in life. It’s intrinsically rewarding to help somebody who may be living in their car find housing, get the necessary training, and get a good job. Not only does that help that person get to a better spot in life, but it also helps businesses get better-trained workers. Whether someone requires training for improvement in their current job, or they’re looking for a different job entirely, we’re happy to help anybody who reaches out to us,” Fry said.