College initiative aims to keep oil workers in North Dakota

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott is launching a new initiative aimed at recruiting the often transient oilfield workers to degree programs, and in the process, keep them living in the state.

The program is called Bakken U. Haggerott says he came up with the idea when talking with tech-savvy rig workers while touring western North Dakota last month.

The plan is to tap academic programs from five colleges in the region, so oil patch workers can earn college degrees now that low crude prices have put many of them in limbo.

Hagerott says he hopes to get businesses that will benefit from the added workforce to sponsor scholarships and grants. He says that even with the oil slowdown, there are about 35,000 job openings around the state.

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