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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts, Higher Education Leaders Propose New Jobs and Education Initiatives

Media Contacts:

Eric Maher, 402-471-1974

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970



(Left to right) University of Nebraska President Dr. Hank Bounds, Labor Commissioner John Albin,

DED Director Dave Rippe, Governor Pete Ricketts, State College System Chancellor

Dr. Paul Turman, Nebraska Community College Association Executive Director Greg Adams,

AKSARBEN Foundation Chairman Terry Kroeger, Nucor Detailing Center Manager Derek

Kowalski, and Metro Community College President Randy Schmailzl


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts unveiled new initiatives designed to connect Nebraskans to high-paying jobs and great educational opportunities.  At the announcement, Governor Ricketts was joined by leaders from Nebraska’s institutions of higher education and private sector representatives.


“Connecting Nebraskans to great job opportunities and helping our people develop the skills they need to take great jobs is critical to growing our state,” said Governor Ricketts.  “These new initiatives will help more Nebraskans find the pathway to a great career.  I look forward to working with the Legislature on these measures as a part of the budget recommendation I will be making next week.”


They include:


  • Nebraska Talent Scholarships The Governor is proposing a new program that provides $4,000 scholarships for students in targeted programs of study at the state’s institutions of higher education.
    • University of Nebraska: Nebraska Talent Scholarships creates 250 scholarships a year at the University of Nebraska available to students in the following programs: math, engineering, healthcare, computer information systems, and all programs at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
    • State Colleges: Nebraska Talent Scholarships creates 250 scholarships a year at the State Colleges available to students in the following programs: rangeland management, industrial technology, criminal justice, and computer information systems.
    • Community Colleges: Nebraska Talent Scholarships creates 65 scholarships a year at the Community Colleges available to students in the following programs: the skilled trades and areas determined by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) as facing a worker shortage.
  • Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI) – The Governor is proposing to expand DYTI, which was first launched four years ago to help expose middle school students to careers in manufacturing and IT.
    • Past Success: Since 2015, DYTI has reached over 7,000 students across 23 school districts, exposing them to manufacturing and IT careers.  Around $1 million in grants awarded to date with approximately two grants per year.
    • Expanded Plan: The Governor is proposing to expand the DYTI grants to Nebraska public schools from $250,000 to $1.5 million annually, allowing for up to 12 grants per year.  The expansion aims to reach new students in every region of the state each year.




“I’m pleased that the Governor recognizes there is a workforce crisis in Nebraska,” said University of Nebraska President Dr. Hank Bounds.  “Affordable, outstanding higher education for students and families is a critical part of the solution.  Governor Ricketts’ proposal is a step in the right direction.”


“The Nebraska State College System is excited to work with Governor Ricketts on the Nebraska Talent Scholarship initiative.  These scholarships will increase the number of State College graduates entering the workforce in the high-need areas identified by Nebraska businesses in our community meetings,” said Nebraska State College System Chancellor Dr. Paul Turman.  “It also expands opportunities and increases affordability for our students to attend Chadron, Peru, or Wayne State College.  The initiative connects students with business and industry during their college careers, resulting in an increased likelihood that these students will choose to enter the workforce in these businesses or elsewhere in rural Nebraska.”


“We know there is a shortage of skilled labor,” said Nebraska Community College Association Executive Director Greg Adams.  “This scholarship proposal does more than recognize the shortage, it is an action step intended to address the problem.  Developing a skilled workforce is the priority of Nebraska’s community colleges.”


“Investing in our people is an investment in Nebraska’s future,” said Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Dave Rippe.  “Our Governor’s initiatives will create great opportunities to connect Nebraskan’s with rewarding, high-paying careers, while addressing the skilled labor needs of our state’s high-growth industries.  In doing so, they will also enhance our ability to recruit top-notch employers to help grow Nebraska.”    


“We are looking forward to supporting these initiatives and building on recent successes the Department of Labor has had in connecting Nebraskans to good job opportunities,” said Labor Commissioner John H. Albin.  “These programs will be a great complement to Registered Apprenticeships, the Reemployment Program, and employment services for SNAP clients, among others.”


“The Developing Youth Talent Initiative will help close the talent gap in our industry by providing early exposure to technology and manufacturing concepts, while encouraging students to consider careers that utilize them,” said Derek Kowalski, a manager at Nucor Detailing Center in Norfolk.