Qualified professionals are hard to hire
By Sara Bertsch -
The number of high-level job positions available in Mobridge is starting to become a concern with local professionals.
The Mobridge-Pollock School district has a total of five positions available in the K through 12 system. So far, each position has been offered twice, but none have been accepted.
While some fear the community is the problem, superintendent Tim Frederick doesn’t believe this is the case.
“The biggest drawback doesn’t relate to Mobridge. There’s a statewide lack of teachers. There are not as many young folks going into education as there are leaving,” Frederick said.
The educators that leave the school system are either retiring or choosing a new profession. The number of retirees and recent graduates with a degree in education are marginally different.
According to Frederick, this is a problem that the government has created. The Federal and State governments have set unrealistic expectations of their educators.
Frederick remembers when he first went into education over 20 years ago. He said when he first began there weren’t as many pressures as there are today. Instead of jumping through hoops, people are choosing other professions to go into.
This, in addition to the low paying salaries of teachers in South Dakota, has forced applicants to look in other directions. According to an article by the Associated Press, South Dakota has the lowest-paying teachers’ salary in the nation with a $39,580 average in 2012-2013.
A survey aimed towards school districts in South Dakota has shown that 70 percent of school administrators believe that low pay is the main cause for teachers to leave.
In addition to the low salary and high expectations, Mobridge has a problem for potential educators that involves affordable housing.
The amount of available housing in the area is low. The amount of affordable housing that is also good quality is even lower, Frederick said.
This lack of housing discourages promising teacher candidates. The applicants chose to take jobs outside of education and Frederick finds this frustrating.
“We have to make education more appealing to applicants,” Frederick said. “Of course we’re worried. We have a little bit of flexibility with the schedule. If we can’t offer courses here, we can offer courses online. I think it’s also the future. It prepares kids going into higher education with taking online courses.”
The school district is not the only one facing employment problems. The city has had a struggle finding people for high-level positions as well.
According to city administrator Steve Gasser, there are currently two high-level positions available.
For the positions, the city is advertising locally, statewide, and in any publications relating to the position. So far, few applications have been filled.
The positions require someone with a degree or at least a lot of knowledge and previous experience. Few are qualified and for mid-level to high-level jobs, it is tough to find people, Gasser said.
Of the few qualified applicants, they also require a job for their spouse somewhere in the area. When there looks to be none in their profession, they turn down the job.
The same issues are being found in the Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics.
Human Resource Director Keri Wientjes said that the community is not the problem.
“We can sell Mobridge in a heart beat in the summertime,” Wientjes said. “We all do a good job together to promote the community.”
Currently, the Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics is looking for a physician. They have nursing positions available too. The number of applicants for nurses comes in waves, said Wientjes. During this time of year, recent graduates are finishing school and looking for work, allowing the hospital to easily find new employees.
They often tell Wientjes they will only be here a few years but instead fall in love with the community and stay much longer. However, there is still an issue bringing in people to Mobridge.
According to the C.E.O. Angie Svihovec, the hardest part is getting people to live in the rural lifestyle. Professionally, they don’t have any challenges. There are many opportunities for professionals in the area to use the knowledge and skills to the greatest extent.
Because of this great opportunity, the hospital makes sure they have the right person for the job first. Before hiring someone, they look for the right fit for everyone involved. They don’t want to hire someone who uprooted their life and moved to a smaller community only to leave shortly after knowing that Mobridge is not right for them.
Wientjes and Svihovec agree that the shortage of housing also poses a problem for incoming nurses and other healthcare professionals. Incoming employees look for quality housing for themselves and their families.
The lack of a swimming pool has also proven to be an issue for potential employees. They look for summer activities for kids and this drawback is a drain on the community.
It’s not just Mobridge, but the healthcare field in general is continuing to go down, said Svihovec. The presence of the rural community also adds to this element.
It also helps if there is a college or technical school nearby with the healthcare fields. Sitting Bull College has now added an LPN program, which will help out the hospital for future employees.
- Sara Bertsch -