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Northeast training and retraining workers impacted by COVID-19

Northeast training and retraining workers impacted by COVID-19

NORFOLK, Neb. – Individuals who have seen their employment impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are turning to Northeast Community College to be trained or retrained with skillsets that will allow them to pursue employment in high-demand careers and industries.

Approximately 50 people have been approved and/or enrolled in programs so far that qualify for financial assistance through the Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative (WRI). The Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Department of Labor program 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.

Dr. Cyndi Hanson, dean of workforce development at Northeast and executive director of the College’s extended campus in South Sioux City, said the College has capacity to enroll several hundred more students who qualify.

With local unemployment hovering around 4% and the strong work ethic of Nebraskans, we suspect many people who are eligible don’t realize they have the opportunity to become qualified for a new career with little to no out of pocket costs,” Hanson said. “If individuals are working part-time or in a temporary status instead of full-time or at lower wages than prior to COVID-19 pandemic, they are eligible to apply.”

Hanson said the program that has seen the most interest is Nurse Aide/Medication Aide. Other programs that are open to eligible students who wish to utilize the WRI scholarship are 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. The coach will 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.

Hanson said many programs are available online for those who are working part-time, have children at home or are concerned about health consequences of attending classes. 

“Our career coach will assist with exploratory conversations to find the program that is the right fit for anyone who applies.”

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.

Employers may also refer candidates. One scholarship will be awarded per applicant and all courses must be completed by March 31, 2021. Students who drop, withdraw or change plans will be required to repay funds. Deadline for student applications is October 28th

“This program can be life a changing experience,” Hanson said. “It can really turn catastrophic circumstances outside of one’s control into a positive outcome. Just today, I had a student start truck driving classes. He’s wanted to be a truck driver all his life, but never believed he could afford to get licensed. What started out as a tremendous loss, has turned into a dream come true.” 

To learn more about the State of Nebraska/Northeast Community College Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative, go online to or call (402) 371-2020 or (800)