- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A state analysis has concluded that people able to care for patients, children or customers will find a favorable job market in South Dakota in the next decade.

The study by the Department of Labor predicts that the most annual job openings in the state through 2022, on average, will be in the fields of nursing, customer service and child care.

“We are definitely a service economy,” Mary Medema, director of workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, told the Argus Leader.

There will be an average annual demand for 370 registered nurses through 2022, according to the study. There also is expected to be a need for hundreds of other health care employees, including nursing assistants, pharmacists and dental hygienists.

The projected need for health care workers is alarming, South Dakota State University gerontology specialist Leacey Brown told the Capital Journal.

“I am concerned with how we are going to generate these people,” she said. “Where are these folks going to come from? Are we going to encourage some of the nurses who are older, but still really healthy, to stay in the workforce longer?”

Brown said the health care industry might need to consider things such as flexible scheduling.

“Maybe you have three nurses sharing a full-time job,” she said. “We have to look for innovative opportunities to encourage folks who have the skills that we need to continue to use their skills.”

The study also found that interpreting and translating is expected to be the fastest-growing job field by percentage in South Dakota in coming years. The demand is expected to grow by about 40 percent, from 285 workers to 400.

Second Judicial Circuit Court Administrator Karl Thoennes told the Argus Leader that he coordinates an average of seven hearings a day that require an interpreter.

“We have an interpreter demand all out of proportion to the caseload,” he said.