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Initiative Goal More Stable Workforce in Oil Patch
By BLAKE NICHOLSON, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A county job development authority in the North Dakota oil patch on Wednesday launched a unique initiative aimed at centralizing state and university programs to help build a regional workforce less susceptible to the boom-and-bust cycle of the oil industry.

The move comes as energy production in the state is on the uptick after a recent slowdown, but more than one-third of the 3,000 job openings in northwestern North Dakota are not in the oil fields, according to Cindy Sanford, manager of the Job Service North Dakota office in Williston.

"There's help wanted in just about every window," she said. "There are tons and tons of jobs out here. Social work, retail, manufacturing, information technology, energy, customer service, teaching, agriculture."

The McKenzie County Skills Initiative brings together job training programs, classes and services offered by the University of Mary, Williston State College, and the state-sponsored TrainND program and the North Dakota Small Business Development Center. They're centralized at the new $57 million community center in the oil boom town of Watford City, and could help job-seekers with everything from computer skills to truck driving skills, said Daniel Stenberg, director of the McKenzie County Job Development Authority.

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