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Large local employers offer incentives to combat workforce shortages

Some of the largest employers in Stutsman County, including health care and education providers, are those that traditionally face workforce shortages. When paired with a low unemployment rate, this can make it difficult for employers to find job...

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Ricki Ramlo, chief operating officer and human resource manager at Jamestown Regional Medical Center, said the hospital offers a variety of incentives to recruit employees. JRMC is one of the largest employers in Stutsman County, and as a health care facility, it traditionally faces workforce shortages.

Some of the largest employers in Stutsman County, including health care and education providers, are those that traditionally face workforce shortages. When paired with a low unemployment rate, this can make it difficult for employers to find job candidates, according to data from Job Service North Dakota.

North Dakota had a 3 percent unemployment rate in December 2016, which was higher than the previous year, but still lower than the national rate of 4.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in Stutsman County was 2.6 percent in December 2016, according to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.

Danica Chaput, customer service senior consultant for Job Service North Dakota, said a low unemployment rate has made the wages in Jamestown more competitive, but employers still have to find and recruit people with the skills for the job. There also needs to be a strong reason for people to change jobs, and it can take a little extra to get someone to come into the community to stay, she said.

Recruitment at JRMC

Ricki Ramlo, chief operating officer and human resource manager at Jamestown Regional Medical Center, said the hospital has a broad spectrum of needs but very specific positions that all require a certain set of skills.

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The hospital utilizes a number of different local, statewide, regional and federal resources to recruit employees, depending on what position it is looking for, Ramlo said. Recruitment can be cyclical, often following the pattern of university graduations, but the hospital is working on recruitment year-round, she said.

The hospital offers a variety of workforce incentives, including discounts on movie tickets, tickets to Valleyfair in Minnesota and at the on-site coffee shop, free use of JRMC gym equipment after normal business hours, consideration for training to advance skills, flexible scheduling, employee appreciation gifts and events and more.

Ramlo said the hospital has offered discounted Valleyfair and movie tickets for over a decade as a little something extra that employees appreciate.

Loan repayment is also available for nurses at JRMC, the North Dakota State Hospital and residential nursing homes through the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program, according to Health Resources and Services Administration. The National Health Service Corps also offers loan repayment for primary care providers in limited access areas.

Ramlo said the hospital’s role in loan forgiveness is to verify participating employees are meeting qualifications.

“There are incentives out there, which is a huge benefit across the state because we need clinical providers to care for our patients,” Ramlo said.

Ramlo said JRMC has many partnerships with the universities in the state to bring in students. The hospital relies on universities for skilled professionals and it also benefits JRMC to have clinical rotations for students, Ramlo said. But the hospital hosts students for more than its own gain, she said.

“We do it because it’s the right thing to do, and help an individual be successful in his or her career,” Ramlo said. “I hear often that students appreciate JRMC’s commitment to advancing education and teaching.”

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The hospital also partners with James Valley Career & Technology Center health class, and allows students to get exposure to clinical fields and see what working in health care really looks like, Ramlo said.

JRMC offers a variety of flexible shifts for fulltime, part-time benefited, part-time not benefited and casual positions, Ramlo said.

For individuals coming back into the community or moving here for the first time, Jamestown being a good community to raise families is an incentive, Ramlo said.

Loan forgiveness

program for teachers

The Jamestown Public School District is the fourth-largest employer in the county, according to the Stutsman County Area Profile, using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. There have been shortages of teachers across the state, especially in smaller school districts, and the Education Standards and Practices Board declared all content areas as critical shortage for the 2016-17 school year, according to the board’s website.

Sally Ost, business manager and human resources director for Jamestown Public School District, said the district does not have a shortage of teachers right now, but has a shortage of support staff, such as paraeducators and janitors.

Ost said the district is trying to be creative with advertising for those positions and highlights the benefits that are available.

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The North Dakota University System offers a loan forgiveness program funded by the state for teachers in shortage areas in the state. North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in an email on Feb. 22 that shortages exist in 14 subjects in North Dakota. The shortage areas are economics and the free enterprise system, computer education, driver and traffic safety education, agriculture education, special education, family and consumer sciences, science, counselors, mathematics, English, music, physical education, social studies and elementary teachers in grades kindergarten through eighth. Ost said teachers find the loan repayment programs on their own, but she has signed off on them before.

Nursing home offers incentives

The Sisters of Mary of the Presentation, which owns Ave Maria Village, is the 10th-largest employer in the county, according to the area profile.

Tim Burchill, Ave Maria Village CEO, said the nursing home has 218 employees right now, which has grown over the years. Burchill said people usually think there is a shortage of nurses, which is true, but finding any kind of employee is a challenge.

Burchill said there is are a student loan repayment and tuition reimbursement programs available to employees who commit to work for the company.

The nursing home offers a sign-on bonus for nursing positions as an incentive, Burchill said. It can be hard to identify what strategy is best for advertising a job, he said. The company has been advertising on the internet, but word of mouth gets the best response, Burchill said.

The University of Jamestown is another source Ave Maria uses to find employees, Burchill said. The nursing home staff tries to meet students at the Community Block Party and goes to job fairs, he said.

Burchill said Ave Maria has about 20 or more employees from UJ, and he doesn’t know what it would do without them. Flexible scheduling is one of the best things Ave Maria offers, and students appreciate being able to work around their school schedules and not limited to a set shift, he said.

The nursing home also pays a recruitment bonus if an employee brings in someone new who works at the company for nine months to a year, Burchill said.

“You gotta have a reputation as a good place to work, and take care of employees,” Burchill said. “It’s not always about the money, but how they are going to be treated.”

kfairbanks@jamestownsun.com |

(701) 952-8453

You gotta have a reputation as a good place to work, and take care of employees. It’s not always about the money, but how they are going to be treated.
Ave TIM BURCHILL Maria Village , CEO

   

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