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GNDC president pleased with ND Legislature — so far

The president and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber says he’s happy with the work the Legislature has done on workforce development.

But Arik Spencer says there’s more work to do.

In an interview, Spencer said lawmakers are definitely aware that childcare has been a top issue in attracting workers. He said $73 million is in the Human Services budget for day care accessibility and affordability.

"When people have children, can they stay in the workforce, when it's going to cost them more in day care than they would earn in their job," Spencer said. "Taking a look at those things holistically,
we're pleased with the work this far on that issue."

Spencer also points to money in the University System budget to grow the “North Dakota Career Builders’ Program.”

"It's a program that employers contribute to, and the state will match it, for certain in-demand careers — both trade school and four-year degrees," Spencer said. "A student can graduate with no student debt, with the caveat that they have to live here and work here for at least three years."

And Spencer said he’s excited about the proposal to establish an “Office of Immigration.”

"For legal immigrants already living here — what barriers do they have to get into the workforce," Spencer said. "Are there industries that can benefit from legal immigration?"

Spencer said some assistance could be provided through that office.

"There are a number of larger employers that are utilizing legal immigrant workforces to address various needs, whether it's in agriculture, or health care," Spencer said. "Are there other opportunities to expand that?"

Spender said he’s happy lawmakers are taking these issues seriously.

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