The state of North Dakota has spent millions of dollars over the past few years on training interns, but officials say it's unclear whether those workers are sticking around.
The state Department of Commerce began the Operation Intern program in 2007 with the goal of developing the state's future workforce. The contribution from the Legislature has grown from $600,000 the first year to $1.5 million during the last session.
Companies can receive up to $3,000 from the program to pay each intern they hire, but have to match the state's contribution, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
Program administrator Ryan Volk said surveys have been sent to businesses to find out whether interns have stayed with companies in North Dakota, but he said he hasn't received many responses. The state is working on a more efficient way to track where former interns find permanent employment, he said.
Operation Intern targets five industries: energy, advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, tourism and technology.
While several Grand Forks business owners said they've had success with the program and will continue applying for money, Benjamin Dorman said his company would rather hire full-time employees. Dorman, president of Valley Med Flight Inc., said a marketing intern left for another job opportunity shortly after being hired through the program.
"I think we'd rather pay someone normal money and get what we pay for," Dorman told the newspaper.
At PS Doors, where interns help design fall-protection systems and industrial doors, at least one intern has become a full-time employee, company human resources director Melissa Arnold said.
"Every time we bring on an intern, one of our goals is that they will decide to stay with us," she said. "It hasn't always been the case."