NORFOLK, Neb. - Nebraskans who have experienced the effects of the pandemic through their work have an opportunity to be trained or retrained with skillsets that will allow them to pursue employment in high-demand careers and industries.
Northeast Community College is partnering with the state Department of Economic Development and Department of Labor (DOL) on a Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative (WRI), which will, in part, provide scholarship dollars to cover tuition and examination fees to eligible individuals who enroll in designated training programs. The average scholarship will be approximately $1,100.
“The initiative will facilitate collaboration among Nebraska economic and labor research organizations, business and industry leaders, chambers of commerce, and Nebraska’s community colleges to identify ongoing high-demand jobs and projected workforce skillsets for emerging industries,” said Dr. Cyndi Hanson, dean of workforce development at Northeast and executive director of the college’s extended campus in South Sioux City. “This training initiative will utilize the Nebraska Community College System's training infrastructure and connection to businesses to assist workers that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
Eligible students must meet one of the following guidelines - be unemployed on or after March 13, 2020, as a result of COVID-19; unemployed between January 1, 2020, and March 13, 2020, and are now unable to find employment as a result of COVID-19; employed for less than 40 hours a week at a job which provides the majority of their income (primary job) due to COVID-19 and wish to be employed full time; employed temporarily at their primary job because of COVID-19, but wish to be employed permanently; or furloughed or laid off from a primary job on or after March 13, 2020, due to COVID-19 (or had to close their own business, which provided the majority of their income, because of COVID-19) and are now employed at a new primary job with lower wages than their previous employment.
A number of existing programs offered through Northeast Community College are eligible to students who wish to utilize the WRI scholarship. This includes Basic Nurse Aide and Medication Aide, Community Health Worker (certificate program), Professional Truck Driver (non-credit), Crops Chemical Applicator, Drafting (certificate program), Machining and Manufacturing Automation (certificate program), CompTIA A+ Certification (non-credit), CompTIA Networking+ Certification (non-credit), CompTIA Security+ Certification (non-credit), LPI Linux Essentials Certification (non-credit), and Forklift Certification (noncredit).
New programs and classes at Northeast include Contact Tracer (credit skills award), Short-Term Welding (noncredit), Fiber Optic Installer (noncredit), Manufacturing Maintenance Electrical & Instrumentation (noncredit), Manufacturing Maintenance Mechanical (noncredit), Control Systems (noncredit), and Digital Controller Systems, Level 1 (noncredit).
The grant also provides a career coach to students. Hanson said a part-time temporary position will be hired to provide these services.
“This position will collaborate with the Nebraska Department of Labor and employers in the region to identify DOL programs of support, employers of interest and opportunities for work-based learning.”
The career coach will also meet with each program participant a minimum of one time during their program participation to assist students in clarifying educational outcome goals, scheduling a time for certification exams, job search preparation, and job search assistance. The career coach will also refer students to other Northeast Community College resources as needed.
One scholarship will be awarded per applicant. All courses must be completed by March 31, 2021. Students who drop, withdraw or change plans will be required to repay funds.
Applications for the Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative scholarships will be accepted through September 30, 2020. Northeast may award up to 847 scholarships prior to September 1, with potential for more from September 2-30.
Employers may refer candidates.
“We are also looking for business partners who are willing to collaborate on providing work-based learning opportunities to support the skills training,” Hanson said. “This can include anything from internships, apprenticeships and internships to job shadows and worksite visits.”
Interested parties may send an email to GetNebraskaGrowing@northeast.edu.
“We have employers in each one of our community college service areas who are looking for skilled employees,” said Nebraska Community College Association Executive Director Greg Adams. “This scholarship opportunity is about moving quickly to train and place persons whose employment has been negatively impacted by COVID. Knowing the labor needs of Nebraska’s employers and moving quickly to provide needed training is what our colleges are prepared to do.”
Dr. Leah Barrett, Northeast president, said that the initiative highlights the work Northeast is committed to offering its students every day.
“Northeast Community College will be an integral part in the recovery from the pandemic as we move forward to address the needs of our employers across the institution’s 20-county service area,” Barrett said. “We are pleased to partner with the state of Nebraska in offering our services that will allow our constituents whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19 the opportunity to get back to work.”
To learn more about the State of Nebraska/Northeast Community College Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative, go online to northeast.edu/workforce-retraining or call (402) 371-2020 or (800) 348-9033.