An IT company in Kearney and a manufacturer in Hastings have won the first state grants to encourage young people to consider careers in technology and manufacturing.
The Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative will provide up to $125,000 to the two businesses each school year.
President Travis Hollman with Hollman Media of Kearney plans to use the money to encourage middle-schoolers to consider the many careers available in IT.
“The key is just to get that excitement at the 6th Grade level, get them thinking like an entrepreneur in 7th Grade, and then start to get their feet wet at 8th Grade so that they know they want to keep pursuing it at high school when there are places at Kearney Public with these small learning communities to pursue that and then, hopefully, post-high school, whether that be college or whatever route that is,” Hollman tells reporters during a news conference hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts at the Capitol.
Hollman works not just with the Kearney Public Schools, but also with the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Flowserve Corporation of Hastings was also awarded a grant by the state Department of Economic Development.
General Manager Robert Wilson says will be used to tailor middle school curriculum in an effort to open eyes to careers in manufacturing.
“We’re not really looking to change the curriculum at the middle school,” according to Wilson. “What we’re trying to do is to sync the curriculum up with the manufacturing that’s going on in Hastings right now. So, it’s more of a bending than a replacing.”
Flowserve helped create the Manufacturers Pathways Advisory Team from the Hastings Area Manufacturers Association in collaboration with Hastings Public Schools and Central Community College.
Gov. Pete Ricketts calls these pilot programs that can be expanded as the state measures the progress of the program.
“So, one of the things that was very important as part of this grant program was the measurements; determining how we’re going to be successful, making sure we can measure that so that we can then apply that to future programs,” Ricketts says. “So, I do see this as something that is fostering something that not only helps the communities of Hastings and Kearney, but something that we can help foster this idea of bringing the private sector into our schools and into our curriculum to help make sure that we have the right trained, skilled workforce for the future.”
Through this initiative, DED will provide financial assistance of up to $125,000 each to two awarded businesses per year in the 2015-16 school year and the 2016-17 school year.