Bismarck – Governor Burgum signed an executive order this morning allowing workers as young as age in North Dakota to combat labor shortages.
North Dakota’s labor shortage as bloomed into a crisis in recent years, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With over 22,000 jobs available in North Dakota, our worker shortage is impacting nearly every sector, from our Main Streets to our coal mines,” said Burgum.
“Today, I am taking swift action to combat our workforce crisis by lowering the legal working age in North Dakota to five years old. Thanks to my executive order, your favorite bars, restaurants, salons and retail stores will have the manpower needed to be fully staffed. This means manufacturing facilities and ranches won’t have to cease their operations and healthcare facilities across our region will have fully staffed beds to care for the wellbeing of our neighbors. Personally, there’s nobody I’d rather buy a cup of coffee from than a smiling, young and inspired kindergartener who’s potential is as limitless as the coffee kiosk at the Capitol Cafe.”
North Dakota’s Department of Public Instruction says they’re working with employers to ensure best practices for kindergartners are incoporated into workspaces including requiring employers to provide workers ages 5-7 with one 30 minute nap and two mandatory recesses for every 3 hours of work.
“As we invite young workers to enter North Dakota’s workforce, my office is committed to ensure best practices are followed and enforced under the Governor’s executive order, including providing mandatory recesses, nap and snack breaks (a similar policy exists for junior North Dakota legislators),” says Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler. “Most state employees already receive these sorts of benefits so this was easy to impliment into our guidelines. We’re also looking at giving kindergartners classroom credit for every 40 hour workweek they complete on the job.”
North Dakota Commerce Commissioner James Leiman says Burgum’s executive order will also relieve the childcare demand in North Dakota while simultaneously staffing high demand occupations including energy and healthcare.
“Our office is already working on solutions through TrainND to equip kindergartners with job-ready skills. For example, by utilizing unspent Covid-19 relief funds, TrainND will provide households with the popular board game ‘Operation’ to prepare young workers for a career in healthcare. And children who show an interest working in the service industry can look forward to receiving an “Easy Bake Oven” so they too can be ready on day one. This is all part of our “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” campaign that we’re relaunching in our state and we think it’s got a good chance of being just as successful as South Dakota’s ‘Meth: We’re On It’ series.”
North Dakota Representative and US Senate Candidate Rick Becker says depsite his differences with Burgum, he applauds the Governor’s executive order.
“For too long we’ve been incentivizing students with free school lunches and it’s making them lazy. Our tax dollars are going to waste on a welfare system designed to reward students to do literally nothing for twelve years. It’s time students today learn the meaning of an honest day’s work and I look forward to hiring these kids to work in my bars, restaurants and surgery centers.”
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