Clemensen pitches into workforce development strategies

Workforce development is at the top of the priority list for regional business and governmental leaders. One person who is especially serious about growing our talent pool is Lon Clemensen, Vice President of Workforce Development at the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. On the job since mid-September, Clemensen has begun the process of crafting new workforce initiatives for our region in a variety of ways.


“First and foremost I have made a concerted effort to sit down, face-to-face, with as many leaders in the community as possible,” Clemensen said. “It’s important for me to learn more about programs, curriculums, grants, internships, and workforce needs from local education and business leaders, who have shared how they are educating students, preparing workers for future career positions and dealing with recruiting challenges.”


Clemensen has also familiarized himself with the ways in which other cities in the US—and even other countries—are tackling workforce demands. While these may be very different from one city to another, utilizing ideas from the most successful areas of the country may offer unique perspectives and practices for Sioux Falls.


The next step, according to Clemensen, is extensive collaboration, with educational, governmental, non-profit and business leaders coming together to tell their stories and to develop actionable steps to improve available labor. Working together will identify more appropriate educational course offerings for students, target better on-the-job training for workers, and have the goal of providing a greater number of qualified candidates for job openings in the city.   


Another major project is a new Internet portal site that will be a “one-stop shop” presenting Sioux Falls in a holistic manner. Someone looking to relocate to Sioux Falls will learn about the advantages of living in Sioux Falls, including healthcare excellence, educational offerings, career opportunities, parks and recreational facilities and many other aspects of the city. This dynamic website will go further than merely facts and figures about Sioux Falls, with an intent to entice people to experience the amenities of our area through videos and testimonials from local residents and business leaders.


Another priority will be focusing on targeted populations and how we can do a better job of educating, providing productive work experiences, internships, apprenticeships and other career development opportunities to prepare potential employees for the workforce, including immigrants, the disabled, youth, the homeless and retirees.


“The thing that is driving me—and the potential for building our workforce—is the human element,” Clemensen said. “From educators and employers to visitors and eager new employees, it’s all about people. All of these groups share a common goal—to make Sioux Falls a place that’s all about a better future for everyone who lives, works, and plays here. When we keep that in mind, we can do amazing things.”


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Workforce Training: The Sioux Falls Advantage

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