- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Job fairs are being held in 12 cities in the Dakotas to woo workers to construction jobs in the western North Dakota oil patch.

The events are part of an initiative launched by Dakota Construction Careers. The coalition of six labor unions has launched a campaign to recruit both construction workers and people wanting to learn building trades.

“Right now we are running out of people for jobs,” Brian Aske, apprenticeship coordinator for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49. “We are interested in recruiting and training either new people that want to start a career or people that might have some experience.”

The first job fairs were in Williston and Minot in North Dakota in late March. Events are planned this month and next in the North Dakota cities of Dickinson, Bismarck, Fargo, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Devils Lake, and the South Dakota cities of Pierre, Aberdeen, Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

Rapid City, S.D., construction company owner Andy Scull said there is a growing need for schools, hospitals, recreation centers and government buildings in western North Dakota. He opened an office in Dickinson two years ago that employs 50 workers, and told the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/PEXtuc ) that he could easily hire another 50.

“It’s a wild thing that’s going on there, and there is a tremendous amount of need from all different types of resources,” he said.

The other five building trade groups involved in the job fair initiative are the Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, Cement Masons & Plasterers Local 633, Iron Workers Local 512, Laborers Local 563 and Painters and Allied Trades.

In March, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation unveiled a similar initiative to address the lack of an adequate workforce. Officials said there are some 25,000 more jobs than takers in all industries in the state. The $800,000 “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” campaign is being paid for equally by tax-supported state funds and a donation by Hess Corp., a New York based oil company. The campaign will rely on media advertising and a state website that is expected to be running in May.