People are the Sioux Falls area´s greatest asset. Creating new jobs and securing a skilled workforce remains one of the top priorities in the Forward Sioux Falls 2021 plan. More than 140,000 individuals are in the labor force in our region. They grew up here or moved here to take advantage of an impressive array of opportunities within our diverse economy.
Yet, if we don´t take purposeful actions to position our community and region for the future of work and the training and education model to maximize our resources, we may be unable to take advantage of all of the potential that we are capable of creating. We will continue to enhance several current programs while implementing specific actions identified through an in-depth workforce strategy process commissioned by Forward Sioux Falls leadership.
While the greater Sioux Falls area continues to experience population and economic growth above and beyond state and national averages, this growth may not be sustainable unless certain actions are undertaken to enhance our region´s workforce availability and skills mix. This leads to the question, "How can we best prepare our workforce to ensure that we are fully prepared for the opportunities to come?"
To answer this question and take stock of the region´s overall talent capacity, Forward Sioux Falls and its partners engaged Market Street Services to facilitate a six-month process that assessed where the Sioux Falls region is now in terms of its competitive position; provided an in-depth understanding of both short-term education and training needs and the sustainability of the workforce, and resulted in the development of a Strategic Workforce Action Agenda complete with tangible actions and initiatives to ensure that regional employers have access to a sustainable pipeline of trained talent now and into the future.
An initial report provided an analysis of the Sioux Falls area´s competitive dynamics to assess how the region is performing compared to nine top peer and aspirational metro regions and evaluated the Sioux Falls area compared to its performance in years past.
The Strategic Workforce Action Agenda is structured according to two principal goal areas and associated strategic focus areas that combine to position the region for success in education and training capacity and performance:
Retaining skilled talent graduating from local high schools and colleges is essential to sustaining a competitive workforce. As the Sioux Falls area´s tightening labor market has shown, the region will not be able to sustain its workforce without a robust and steady infusion of diverse talent from outside the region and, increasingly, beyond the state of South Dakota to the entire Midwest.
There can be no denying that the alignment of local training pipelines with the jobs being created in the regional economy improves not only the chances of graduates to find quality work but also the ability of companies to sustainably expand their businesses. Strategies to enhance the capacity and output of the Sioux Falls Area´s talent-development systems must acknowledge both the perception and reality of training demands and opportunities.
Forward Sioux Falls will initially participate in four key initiatives as the next program gets underway:
• Develop a cradle-to-career coalition in the Sioux Falls area
• Design and implement a talent marketing campaign, incorporating and coordinating existing efforts
• Develop and optimize a comprehensive online talent portal
• Identify and advance priority programs to support targeted populations in the region
• Grow the labor force by 15,000 in the next five years
• Align messages and programs to ensure we have a workforce with the right skills at the right time
• Increase student populations, degree completions and degree offerings in post-secondary education
• Career focus expansion at K-12
• Build Dakota Scholarship Match
• Collaborate with state and local efforts
• Grant search