MSU President's Newspaper Column

September 3, 2022

Working to meet North Dakota workforce needs

The workforce needs in our state are great. There are numerous areas where employees are needed to fill positions of employment. An extremely important objective for our university is to prepare individuals for those occupations, helping to meet the needs of North Dakota wherever possible.

We are already doing many things to help, but it is important for us to do more. In my recent state of the university address, I challenged our faculty and staff to work together, and to be innovative, adaptive, and entrepreneurial in identifying areas where we can prepare workforce in high-need areas. In many cases, we may already have the curriculum needed. We may just need to package it, stack credentials, and/or offer certificates.

North Dakota’s in-demand occupations list was primarily created using long-term employment projections from the North Dakota Labor Market Information Center and supplemented by data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The list is reviewed and updated annually by the Workforce Development Council with assistance from Job Service North Dakota. The list is primarily comprised of occupations that typically require some postsecondary education up to and including a bachelor’s degree.

The list is extensive, but it’s easy to pick out several areas where Mayville State is already, or has the potential to, make an impact. Occupations included in the list are teachers of all kinds, accountants and auditors, financial managers, management analysts, tax preparers, sales managers, public relations specialists, marketing specialists, and childcare teachers and workers.

Mayville State’s Division of Education provides a shining example of the kinds of things we do at Mayville State to help with workforce needs.

Special education is a high need in North Dakota and nationwide. I am happy to say that Mayville State is working very hard to help in this area. It is one of the focus areas with Mayville State’s new M.Ed. degree program. In addition, Mayville State now offers a stand-alone special education B.S.Ed. There is a fast-track program that allows students to complete a B.S.Ed. in as little as 2 ½ years with a mix of 8-week and 16-week courses. Paraprofessionals can use their experience in the classroom as prior life experience to help.

Just this fall semester, Mayville State began offering a course titled “Foundations of Special Education.” Coming in the spring, students who have completed the Foundations course will be able to do a field experience. With making the course available to students who are still in high school and earning high school and college credit simultaneously, as well as regular degree-seekers, the hope is that the courses will spark interest in potential future special education professionals.

The course evolved through the work of Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Carly Theis who worked collaboratively with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. As of Aug. 26, 17 dual credit students and 21 regular degree-seeking students were already enrolled, and applications are still coming in. We anticipate that these courses will attract future special education majors to Mayville State, and more importantly, fill a need for the citizens of North Dakota by preparing future special education teachers.

I commend Dr. Theis and her colleagues in the Division of Education for their willingness to be innovative and diligent in serving the needs of our state.

Mayville State University alumni are teaching in nearly every county in North Dakota. Whether they are teaching in the area of special education or any field of education, they are making a positive impact for individuals who are North Dakota residents of all ages, as well as for the state as a whole. This is a great source of Comet pride!