job fair 2018 (copy)

MBI was among energy companies bringing a full-court press to the fall edition of the Williston Job ServicesND job fair inn this 2018 file photo. It’s almost time once again for the semi-annual job fair, and it’s still a job seeker’s market, organizers say.

Job ServicesND has seen a 57 percent jump in production occupations from July to August, but that figure doesn’t necessarily represent new positions.

Instead, it reflects efforts by area companies to connect with a few hundred highly experienced employees who were among recent layoffs by Whiting Oil and Gas, and a week later, Oasis Petroleum.

Williston’s Job ServicesND office manager Paula Hickel said she had several calls in the wake of those layoffs, from companies wanting to know if there is any way to connect with the Whiting and Oasis employees who were laid off.

Of course, there is, Hickel told them. And it’s 100 percent free. They just need to list their positions with Job ServicesND.

“It was a springboard that led these companies to say, Oh, man, these are really qualified candidates in the production side of things,” she said. “We’d better get our positions advertised.”

Hickel said that gives her confidence that an upcoming job fair Wednesday, Sept. 11, is set to be large and busy for both job seekers and job creators.

While overall job listings are down 16 percent as compared to this time last year, available jobs still outnumber job seekers by healthy margins. It’s still a job seekers market in the Oil Patch.

“We still have plenty of jobs for the people here,” she said.

Hickel suggested the reduction could reflect successful recruiting efforts. To the extent that is true, it is a success factor for all the recruiting efforts going on in the Bakken.

The top jobs continue to be those that require a CDL, especially if that CDL comes with endorsements like hazardous materials.

“It is the Ph.D of the Bakken,” Hickel said. “That is not going out of style any time soon.”

It takes a little bit of experience, however, for the perfect blend.

“If you are young or new to CDL, you basically will be able to get some experience while getting paid,” Hickel said. “Some will even provide some training, and now is the best time for that.”

Laws are going into effect next year that will require drivers not to just pass a test, but attend school to get licensed.

“We are fortunate to have a great CDL training program at TrainND,” Hickel said. “And (Job Services) has a federal program that we manage for folks who are eligible for the program, to get CDL training for free.”

Another high-demand area is health care, although salaries are not necessarily much higher here than other parts of the nation.

“There are training opportunities for CNAs through our program,” Hickel added. “But all the medical positions are high-demand jobs.”

There’s also been a recent spike in community and social service positions, Hickel said. “Those continue to be difficult to fill to meet the needs of a growing community.”

One area that is not a high-demand area from employer perspectives are office and administrative positions. These are in a 1 to 1 ratio, generally, Hickel said.

“I think if we had more employers posting the part-time opportunities they have, especially if it can be partially or completely done from home, we’d see a surge in that, because a lot of women are looking for that.”

Some examples might be data entry or book keeping.

“The benefit of that is we are in a few crunches for families here that if we can think creatively as a community and employers to meet some of the needs — such as we don’t have the childcare resources needed for women who want to go to work,” Hickel said. “And we have the bussing issues, as well. A lot of parents, again primarily mothers, would have time on their hands, but maybe they have to run the kids around to two or three schools, so a part-time home-based operation would be capitalized by many.”

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