Gov. Ricketts Praises President Trump's Commitment to Nebraska's Workers, Highlights Workforce Initiatives
Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970
Eric Maher, 402-471-1974
President Trump and Ivanka Trump highlight over 6 million new opportunities
at a White House event attended by Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin.
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts congratulated President Donald J. Trump on news that American companies had pledged to provide over 6 million opportunities through education and training for American workers. The announcement coincided with news that over 40 American Governors, including Governor Ricketts, had signed the President’s “Pledge to America’s Workers.”
“Whether it’s cutting taxes or spurring the economy to create more jobs, President Trump has delivered extraordinary results for working families in Nebraska and across the country,” said Governor Ricketts. “Nebraska’s greatest asset is our people. Thanks to their unparalleled work ethic and dedication to the Good Life, Nebraska is the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. It is an honor to join these Governors from across the nation led by President Trump to affirm our commitment to help more families achieve their dreams.”
Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin joined President Trump for the announcement at the White House.
“I was privileged to be part of the announcement at the White House,” said Commissioner Albin. “With the support of President Trump and Governor Ricketts, the Department of Labor will continue our work of connecting Nebraskans to a wide range of job opportunities offered by employers throughout the state.”
GOV. RICKETTS’ WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES CONNECT NEBRASKANS TO GREAT OPPORTUNITIES
Governor Ricketts has been leading several workforce development initiatives to help connect more Nebraskans to great opportunities. Four major initiatives are outlined here.
Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative
For young Nebraskans, we have launched a program to help connect middle schoolers to great opportunities in the fields of manufacturing and information technology. In 2015, I worked with the Legislature to create the Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI). As more jobs become available in these fields, we need to do more to make the next generation aware of these great opportunities and share the technical skills and knowledge they require. By establishing partnerships between businesses and school districts, DYTI provides career exploration and hands-on learning opportunities geared toward seventh and eighth graders. Right now, Nebraska has programs running in Broken Bow, Hastings, Hebron, Kearney, Omaha, Scottsbluff, and York. This year, Governor Ricketts announced new partnerships with schools in Norfolk and Deshler.
DYTI is making a difference. Research shows that students involved in similar programs show increased interest and are more likely to pursue careers in STEM fields. Over the past few years, DYTI has resulted in higher student enrollment in science and technical courses among incoming high school freshmen, as well as greater interest in pursuing technical careers after graduation.
Working with the Nebraska Department of Labor, Gov. Ricketts has transformed the state’s unemployment program into a first-in-the-nation reemployment program. Nebraska now requires all individuals seeking unemployment benefits to create a searchable, online resume, meet with a job coach, and apply for jobs multiple times a week. This individualized program helps each person to develop a reemployment plan tailored to their skills and career goals. With the help of the Legislature, people can no longer quit their job to go on unemployment benefits.
These reforms are producing great results for Nebraskans. The number of individuals exhausting their unemployment benefits is down nearly 37 percent. The number of weeks claimed for unemployment benefits is down 23 percent. This is having a positive effect for taxpayers. We have been able to reduce the unemployment insurance tax rate by over 25 percent, saving Nebraska’s job creators nearly $20 million in 2017. All of this has led to winning national and industry awards, while putting Nebraskans back to work more quickly.
Registered Apprenticeships (RA)
At Gov. Ricketts’ direction, the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) is collaborating with businesses, educational institutions, and the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to develop new RA programs across a variety of industries. Apprentices who complete a program receive a nationally-recognized certification from the USDOL. Two years ago, NDOL received a $200,000 ApprenticeshipUSA grant from the USDOL to expand RA opportunities. Between October 2016 and October 2017, the number of employers sponsoring RAs increased by 17 percent. The RA initiative has established many new programs since October of 2017.
Last fall, Dramco Tool became the first employer to sponsor a youth RA through a partnership with the Grand Island Public Schools Career Pathways Institute. There are approximately 107 RA programs currently in Nebraska, representing a 23 percent increase in employers participating in RA programs since October 2016. Depending on the occupation, an apprentice spends 2,000 hours per year on the job to complete a given program. Employers have flexibility in determining how this time is spent, but must meet USDOL standards. In addition to the on-the-job training, RA programs also provide related instruction to participants via the internet, the classroom, or other methods. More RA programs are in development.
SNAP Reemployment Program
Because Gov. Ricketts’ reemployment program has been so successful, Nebraska is now utilizing it in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to help families on food stamps find better job opportunities. The program started with a pilot in Grand Island and expanded to Hastings, Columbus, Norfolk, and Scottsbluff over the last year. The program has helped participants achieve greater stability, a higher income, and less reliance on government assistance for those who participate and successfully complete it. We have helped 36 percent of participants find a new job, and those families have increased their pay by approximately $10,000. Each of those families has reduced or eliminated their need for food stamps. Over the next year, we will be expanding the program to North Platte, Sidney, and Lexington.