State officials hopeful Dakota Roots program will spread

For the past five years, the Dakota Roots program has matched thousands of former South Dakota residents with in-state jobs.

Program officials and local employees of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) hope the level of returns in 2012 will be the highest yet.

"Since its inception, (the program has) placed 2,097 people in the state, which is pretty impressive. It's a very successful program," said Duane Sitter, employment representative for the Vermillion DLR office.

Office manager Dan Hart agreed, adding that the figure of returns equals "about a family a day."

Now, with a Web site redesign and a campaign featuring newspaper ads and television commercials – which also are available for viewing on YouTube – the state hopes to educate even more former South Dakota residents of what the program is all about.

Essentially, workers who want to return to the state will register on the program's Web site, where they fill out the kind of job for which they are searching, and the geographical area where they want to work.

They also can do a general statewide search by job – listings for which are provided by the businesses – county or community.

"Not only can they do the search, they can save these searches and put in date blocks," Hart said. "Then the system checks for them every day, and will notify them of anything new via e-mail that fits their search criteria."

Participants also are put in contact with a labor office representative who will assist in the search for employment by providing possibilities both in field and geographic area.

"Admittedly, some of them that are filling in their own search criteria (are) way ahead of me, because they're going in on a daily basis and searching," Sitter said. "I look at the job order, and they've already referred themselves."

Another service the program provides is job development.

"That's a situation where we don't necessarily have an opening listed, but if we have someone with good skills looking in a specific field, we'll contact the businesses that will hire in that area and let them know that here's somebody that you might want to interview," Hart said.

Sitter said he has enjoyed working with the Dakota Roots program in part because it was tailored to the needs of the state.

"Some of (the other programs) sometimes were not a real good fit for South Dakota," he said. "The Dakota Roots program is designed by South Dakota people, and it is for South Dakota people."

For more information about Dakota Roots, contact Hart at 677-6900, or visit the Dakota Roots Web site at www.dakotaroots.com.

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