EDITORIAL: Grads, change the world, but how about you start right here in North Dakota?

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May 14—Congratulations, higher education graduates from across our region. You did it.

As you receive diplomas this month from two- and four-year colleges and universities in and near North Dakota, take a moment to reflect on the past few years — the hard work you put in, the friends you met and the experiences you had.

As longtime NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw once told graduates: "You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world."

Today, we ask you to consider another alternative: Think of that degree as a ticket to change our region — this place where you put in all of this effort and where you have developed roots over these past years.

North Dakota has open jobs — so many, in fact, that most of you will have your pick.

Just last week, Gov. Doug Burgum reported

that there were 19,574 online job listings at Job Service North Dakota, an increase of nearly 10% since the previous month. Since last April, that number rose 19%, or about 3,200 jobs.

All told, the number of open jobs in North Dakota likely is somewhere around 30,000.

Even state government is feeling the labor crunch. Burgum said his next budget will include "a comprehensive, competitive rewards and compensation package" for prospective state employees.

James Leiman, North Dakota's Department of Commerce commissioner, recently told Forum News Service that all of the state's business sectors need workers. For instance, he said thousands of unfilled construction jobs are threatening to leave major infrastructure projects incomplete or delayed.

News stories across the state in recent months show that nurses and teachers are in high demand, as well as workers for growing tech industries.

Graduates, everyone is trying harder to keep you here. The Legislature recently invested hundreds of millions of dollars in workforce development. In Grand Forks, dozens of businesses and individual donors ponied up $11 million to construct a facility — to be called the

Career Impact Academy — to help train future workers for the many jobs that we know we'll need in our region.

It all shows North Dakota's dedication to people just like you.

So, please consider it. Before you run off to other regions — where there won't be as many jobs and where the cost of living will no doubt be higher — think hard about staying here, in North Dakota, where you're so needed to help boost an economy that shows great promise.

We're all working hard on boosting wages. It's not always easy — the pandemic, inflation and supply chain issues have combined to hinder some businesses. But good wages exist here and we'll give you good and exciting places to work. North Dakota cities are working on quality-of-life factors, too.

We want you to stay.

As Brokaw said, your diploma will provide you with an opportunity to change the world.

How about you change it from right here, in North Dakota?