Nebraska Chamber, state leaders spotlight workforce need, proposals to help

NE Chamber, state leaders spotlight workforce need, proposals to help
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On Tuesday, business, elected, and education leaders, including students, spotlighted a growing need to prioritize workforce training, talent recruitment and retention initiatives in community and state economic development work.

The group gathered at the Nebraska Capitol to recognize Workforce Week, March 12-18, as proclaimed by Governor Jim Pillen.

“Keeping and attracting talent in our businesses and families in our communities are quickly becoming the most important issues we can address in the coming decade,” NE Chamber President Bryan Slone said. “About 50,000 to 80,000 jobs have been going unfilled over the past two years. As you can see from the team assembled today, we’re taking action.”

Nebraska has the highest workforce participation rate among all U.S. states at 69.9% and the third-lowest unemployment rates at 2.6%.

“We have great jobs for thousands of graduating and new Nebraskans in our communities today,” Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Joe Kelly said. “Working together, in public, private, and education partnerships, we can build a bright future for our children.”

“Our workforce is our people – our state’s most valuable resource. A continued focus on workforce development is about helping Nebraskans achieve their dreams by connecting them to the great high-wage jobs that can help them live, work, and raise a family right here in the Good Life,” U.S. Rep. Mike Flood (R-NE) said.

“Nebraska is the only state that doesn’t provide state funding towards Career Technical Education (CTE) programs,” Senator Loren Lippincott said. “In just a few short years, they’ll be our manufacturers, educators, doctors, nurses, farmers, and business owners. Let’s make sure they’re ready.”

The initiatives featured by the NE Chamber, and legislative and education partners today include:

- LB610, sponsored by Nebraska Senator Loren Lippincott, District 34, to expand the reach of career and technical education (CTE) programs in high schools statewide by appropriating $10 million in state funding to complement existing federal Perkins funding.

- LB416, sponsored by Nebraska Senator Kathleen Kauth, District 31, which modernizes Nebraska’s tax code to minimize the threat of double taxing remote workers and helps businesses to better leverage remote talent in filling the workforce gap;

- Funding for Nebraska’s colleges and universities to support scholarships, workforce training programs and facilities, and new initiatives that grow enrollment by 10% in the next five years;

- Workforce development grants, included in Governor Jim Pillen’s budget request, that are modeled after the extremely popular Workforce Retention, Recruitment & Development Grants of 2022

- Prioritizing solutions to effectively and legally address Nebraska and the nation’s workforce shortage to allow talented individuals to legally move to the U.S. and work.

In addition to the team assembled at the Nebraska Capitol Tuesday, more than 60 local chambers across the state are highlighting initiatives they and their members are taking on to meet workforce needs.