Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved through implementing effective, adaptable, community-focused, and coordinated education and workforce development systems that produce a well-educated, highly skilled workforce that respond to employers’ needs in a rapidly changing economy.

Employment plays a critical role in the lives of residents, families, and communities. Equally important, it provides the pathway to career-building and allows community members the opportunity to achieve important life goals and for engagement in their community. One key to a vibrant and successful workforce is education and skilled labor certification, which provides social, civic, and personal development in addition to workforce development. As an economy changes and grows, the demand for workers prepared at all educational levels will continue to grow. Therefore, developing skilled workers that match employers’ needs, in a continuously changing and diverse economy, requires strategic investments in education and workforce development programs, which must be coordinated and aligned with the economic development of the community. 

What's happening

  • The six-year graduation rate from 4-year institutions in North Dakota (51.5%) was below the national average (59.7%) in 2014; North Dakota ranked 37th for its completion rate among all states in 2014. For 2-year institutions, North Dakota's three-year graduation plus transfer rate (42.5%) fell below the national average in 2014 (44.1%); North Dakota ranked 24th for its completion rate among all states in 2014.
  • In North Dakota, 29.1 percent of the population who are 25 years and older had a bachelor's degree or higher (2015); among residents ages 25 to 34, 35.6 percent had at least a bachelor's degree in 2015. A greater share of foreign-born than native-born adult residents (age 25 and older) have a bachelor’s degree or higher (39.1% and 27.3%, respectively) (2011-2015).
  • The proportion of adults (age 16-64) working in North Dakota was 78.5 percent in 2015. The proportion of adults working within ND varied by counties; Dickey county had the highest proportion of adults working (83.6%) and Sioux county had the lowest proportion of adults working (46.7%) in North Dakota (2011-2015).

Making connections

Investment in early childhood and later in education helps to ensure a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. Providing access to high-quality education and postsecondary certification will expand economic opportunity for individuals and families. Research suggests that individuals with higher levels of education are better able to compete for choice jobs and more likely to obtain positions with better working conditions, benefits, and opportunities for advancement. 
More educated and skilled workers bring many benefits to the organizations that employ them. Many employees with additional education are better equipped to adapt to new situations, can learn new tasks and skills more easily, and have the capacity to use a wider range of technologies and sophisticated equipment, which provides the opportunity to improve productivity. Furthermore, the advantages of having a highly educated and skilled workforce benefits all, individuals, businesses, the local community, and the economy as a whole.
Education andskilled labor certification is an investment in the future of the state, because workers with higher incomes contribute more through taxes over the course of their lifetimes. Higher incomes are also associated with better educational outcomes for children of the employed, improved mental and physical health outcomes, in addition to many other individual, family, and community advantages.


Vision West: Leading, Educating, and Collaborating to Mobilize the 19 Western North Dakota Counties Towards Resilience and Prosperity

"Deb Nelson is the administrator of the Vision West ND Consortium, which represents the 19 oil and gas producing counties in western North Dakota. Vision West ND’s goal is to implement the Regional Sustainability Plan for western North Dakota. Deb is founder and president of DLN Consulting Inc. She specializes in strategic planning, board development and management, and community organization for rural nonprofit organizations and government agencies in North Dakota and several surrounding states. She has served as a lecturer and presenter at various national, state, and local conferences. She began her career as an educator, and has a strong educational background with over 25 years of extensive experience with credentials in public relations and program management. Deb has also served as the principal administrator for several research-based studies for state and federal agencies. She and her husband Ken, are long-time residents of Dickinson. They have two grown sons who both live in North Dakota.".


ND Head Start Association: Vibrant Economy Leads to Workforce Shortages - Head Start Programs Statewide Are Feeling the Impact

"While North Dakota has been enjoying economic strength and prosperity, the state is also struggling with labor shortages... Specifically, among the programs that are struggling due to worker shortages are North Dakota’s Head Start Programs. Head Start, through agencies in local communities, helps young children from low-income families become ready for school, families ready to support their children's learning, and schools ready for the children who enter their doors".

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