Two Nebraska manufacturers will receive $125,000 state grants to work with local schools in an effort to interest middle-school students in manufacturing and technology careers.
Gov. Pete Ricketts says his Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative will open up new career opportunities for students as well as supply Nebraska manufacturers with skilled workers.
“Manufacturing is the second biggest industry that we have here in Nebraska; 13% of our economy, right behind agriculture,” according to Ricketts. “And it creates opportunities to create jobs all across our state, not just in Lincoln and Omaha and that’s important, because we cannot be a healthy state if we only grow jobs in Lincoln and Omaha. We have to grow them across the entire state.”
MetalQuest of Hebron and Distefano of Omaha won the grants for the coming school year.
Last year, Flowserve of Hastings and Hollman Media of Kearney won the grants in the first year of the initiative.
State Economic Development Director Courtney Dentlinger says the grants intend to open the eyes of students to careers in manufacturing.
“We have very bright young people in our schools, but we also have a gap,” Dentlinger says. “We’ve got a number of jobs that are open, incredible careers, great salaries as we just heard, but students aren’t going into those fields.”
The Unicameral approved the governor’s initiative last year. It promotes private-public partnerships between Nebraska companies and local schools, providing hands-on experience and education for students in 7th and 8th grades.
MetalQuest will work with the South Central Nebraska Unified School District. Distefano will work with the Omaha Public Schools.