Workforce demand is strong

Brookings’ workforce demand is strong, with more than 1,200 job openings reported recently in the Brookings area and more than 700 additional positions planned in the next three years.

That’s according to the Brookings Economic Development Corporation’s recent survey of area employers to better understand Brookings’ current and future workforce needs. The survey results will help BEDC develop future programs and a countywide workforce strategy to take advantage of the community’s opportunities and tackle challenges.  

“This is our third workforce survey over the past seven years. It’s critical to stay up-to-date on our employers’ workforce needs,” said Stacy Aesoph, BEDC director of workforce development. “The survey is an important part of our continued efforts in developing workforce solutions.” 

The survey was sent out in March to 330 companies with 71 participating. Those 71 companies represent a total workforce of 12,939, or 68% of the Brookings area workforce of 18,744. A wide variety of industries completed the survey with the majority being manufacturing (16.9%), health care and social assistance (12.68%) and retail trade (12.68%). 

“Overall, the survey results show that workforce demand is strong and will remain strong in the near term,” said Dawn Petterson, BEDC workforce analyst. “There were 1,216 openings at the time of the survey and employers are planning for 716 additional positions within the next three years.”

Hiring and retention

Employers indicated the most in-demand occupations include business managers, engineers, technicians and production staff. While employers are generally satisfied with the quality of applicants, there is a lack of supply. Jobs most difficult to fill include maintenance technicians, general supervisory or management positions and engineering positions that require experience.  

Thirty-nine of the 71 respondents recruit at colleges/universities or technical schools. Ninety percent of those consider South Dakota State University to be a potential talent pipeline for their organizations. Thirty-five respondents hired 80 SDSU graduates over the past year. The next greatest level of recruitment takes place at state technical institutes, with 51% recruiting from Lake Area Technical Institute. 

Retention is a priority with 73% of respondents indicating turnover affects their organization. Forty-two percent said turnover is a concern for specific positions.  

The top four ways companies are retaining staff include increasing wages, ensuring effective supervision, employee involvement strategies and offering training opportunities.

The complete survey results are available at the Brookings Economic Development Corporation or by visiting www.buildingbrookings.com/workforce.

By: Brookings Economic Development Corporation

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