Nebraska is at a crossroads.
The choices we make today about building and supporting our workforce will impact quality of life in our state for years to come.
According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Nebraska ranks 7th in the nation for future need for workers with post-secondary education, yet only 36% of our workers have any post-secondary education. And while Nebraska was not as deeply impacted by the recession as other states, our capacity to come out ahead in the economic recovery is limited by the skills of our current workforce. In fact, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development found that “workforce availability” was one of the top concerns of businesses.
Nebraska’s working families of today need new opportunities to increase their skills to contribute to these workforce needs. Fortunately, many entities are stepping up to contribute to solutions: targeted job training programs are moving forward in health care and “green” industries and the statewide Community College system is serving significantly more students.
Yet, more can be done – but only if we make strategic choices. On a local scale, we must remember that job training programs are crucial, but are not the whole solution. This New York Times article “The New Poor – After Training, Still Scrambling for Employment” cautions that job training must link up to in-demand jobs in order to be successful. On a state scale, we must make strategic choices in the upcoming budget conversation to protect programs that contribute to the long-term economic well being of our families and our communities.
Our state must make strategic choices today to build our worker’s capacity to fill current jobs, grow Nebraska businesses, and attract industries. We’re reminded of the importance of this discussion on a daily basis. That’s why Nebraska Appleseed, in partnership with our sponsors The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Opportunity@Work, and the Center for People in Need, will host the 2010 Building Nebraska’s Future Workforce Forum featuring keynote speaker Margaret Simms of the Urban Institute’s Low Income Working Families Project.
Join us and register today to lend your voice to the conversation about Nebraska’s future workforce!