Burgum announces federal funding for technology upskilling school with ties to Grand Farm initiative

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Gov. Doug Burgum, in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the North Dakota Workforce Development Council, announced today federal funding totaling $200,000 to support the launch of Emerging Digital Academy, an accelerated learning platform that will teach North Dakotans new skills to help them thrive in an economy undergoing rapid technological change.

Emerging Digital Academy is designed to equip graduates with technical skills relevant in the current market, while also teaching behavioral and critical thinking skills that will aid them in successfully being part of a software development team.

Emerging Digital Academy will be open to workers statewide as part of the Grand Farm initiative, which aims to capitalize on the region’s potential in the agriculture and technology industries. Grand Farm’s goal is to create a fully autonomous farm that will impact the Fargo-Moorhead community and beyond by developing new opportunities and accelerating change.

“This investment will support the workforce pillar of the Grand Farm initiative, strengthen our state’s economy and help create a 21st century workforce,” Burgum said. “As traditional jobs are increasingly displaced by autonomous technology and artificial intelligence, it’s essential that we stay ahead of the curve by offering opportunities for workers to quickly learn new skills and fill important roles in the tech-driven economy. This is a key step in our efforts to build livable communities, address unmet community needs and enhance local economic development efforts.”

The funds are being provided through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This workforce development program provides a range of employment, education, training and related services and supports to help all jobseekers secure good jobs while providing businesses with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

“Innovative agriculture offers some of the greatest growth opportunities for North Dakota, and this project is a prime example of the leadership we are capable of in our state,” Commerce Commissioner and coordinator of the Workforce Development Council Michelle Kommer said. “This investment connects directly to several of the needs identified by the Workforce Development Council in its report of recommendations submitted to Governor Burgum in late 2018, and will serve as a model of innovation in our approach to education.”

Emerging Digital Academy will be a program of Fargo-based Emerging Prairie and will license its curriculum from Prime Digital Academy, a full-time immersion tech learning program based in the Twin Cities. Co-founded by Mark Hurlburt and Minot native Mike Derheim, Prime Digital Academy trains web developers and user experience designers in 18-20 weeks, with more than 850 graduates working at more than 400 companies in Minnesota. Hurlburt joined Burgum in making today’s announcement on stage at the TEDxFargo event.

Classes at Emerging Digital Academy are tentatively set to begin in April, with the goal of graduating 40 students within the first year.

For additional information on Grand Farm visit: http://grandfarm.com/

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