Workforce Development – SWO

Removing Obstacles: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

DPE trainer Brenda Uses Arrow holds a "Road to Success" drawing, which DPE participants are asked to create in order to visualize their career goals and how much they will go about achieving them. (Photo: SWO Developing Productie Employees Program)  

Long saddled with deep poverty and an unemployment rate exceeding 50 percent, SWO has come a long way economically in recent decades, operating two successful manufacturing companies and three casinos which – along with SWO government and the local TCU – now provide nearly 1,000 jobs to SWO members and other local residents. While SWO is among the largest employers in its region, in the early years of its economic resurgence it encountered an unexpected problem – many tribal members were struggling to keep their jobs, leading to a 70% turnover rate. In response, key SWO government and business players came together to analyze the issue, leading to SWO’s establishment of a holistic, solution called the “Developing Productive Employees” (DPE) program. DPE equips SWO members who have lost their jobs – or are in danger of doing so – with the soft skills and related resources they need to succeed in and sustain employment. Offered every three weeks, DPE’s intensive two-day training helps participants build a “toolbox” of healthy coping skills that they can use in the workplace, including “emotional intelligence,” managing stress, and “communicating for success.” The award-winning program has led to a decreased employment turnover rate among participants, and their decreased reliance on tribal social service programs like TANF.

CONNECT: Brenda Uses Arrow, HR Director, Dakota Nation Gaming Enterprise, 

Workforce Development: SISSETON WAHPETON OYATE 

To learn more about SWO's workforce development story, click on the resources below. 

Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate website
Welcome to Developing Productive Employees (DPE)
DPE Program Pariticpant Letter 
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Revised Personnel Polices (2015) see page 28
Honoring Nations: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Prorgam (2005) Case Study 
National Center for First Nations Governance: Best Practices: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Nation 
Honoring Nations: Joyce Country and Dorry Larson: The Sisseton Wahepton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program (2007) (video) 
Honoring Nations: Dr. Dorry Larson and Joyce Country: The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Professional Empowerment Program (2005)
NCFNG Governance Toolkit Best Practices: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Nation

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