Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced Aulick Industries of Scottsbluff, Becton Dickinson of Broken Bow, and Cyclonaire of York as the 2017 grant recipients for the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative (DYTI), a program that connects young Nebraskans to careers in the manufacturing and technology sectors.  Governor Ricketts proposed the DYTI in January 2015 to foster partnerships between private industries and public schools that promote engagement in hands-on career exploration and relevant workplace learning for 7th and 8th grade students.

Over the past two years, the Governor led and Legislature-approved initiative has invested up to $125,000 each to four businesses.  Funding for the 2017-2018 school year will be granted based on each recipient’s request and will be administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED).

“Forward-thinking business leaders and communities across our state understand that early educational opportunities are the keys to building a competitive, 21st-century workforce in the IT and manufacturing industries,” said Governor Ricketts. “Congratulations to Aulick Industries, Becton Dickinson, and Cyclonaire on receiving the 2017 grants, which will support their goals to connect young people to these careers in Nebraska.

“DYTI metrics from previous grant recipients, such as Flowserve in Hastings, indicate a significant increase in student interest and participation in these industries,” continued Governor Ricketts.  “For example, Hastings High School had a 16 percent increased enrollment in Skills and Technical Sciences classes from incoming freshman who participated in a full year of DYTI programs in the 8th grade.”

During the application process, this year’s DYTI recipients outlined plans to connect businesses to students in western, central, and north central Nebraska.  Businesses will utilize funding to address specific needs to grow Nebraska’s IT and manufacturing industries, including the development of STEM careers and access to marketing opportunities and evolving technology.

“The State of Nebraska’s continued commitment to the DYTI encourages our business owners and educators to help Nebraska students prepare for high-skill, high-wage jobs,” said DED Director Courtney Dentlinger.  “Exposing our youth to this program is a win-win for growing Nebraska: the DYTI provides the necessary tools to build labor skills unique to IT and manufacturing, and fosters early relationships between students and Nebraska business leaders.”

This year’s recipients cited the need to develop public-private partnerships between the State of Nebraska, local businesses, schools, and economic development organizations to continue building Nebraska’s IT and manufacturing workforce.

York Middle School students will focus on concepts in manufacturing, design, and marketing to support school activities.

“Cyclonaire is excited to partner with York Public Schools on the DYTI grant,” said Cyclonaire President Scott Schmid.  “This initiative presents an amazing opportunity to increase student exposure to manufacturing technologies and career paths available in our communities. I want to thank the York County Development Corporation for providing valuable assistance in facilitating this new opportunity.”

Becton Dickinson’s planned project will develop a portable trailer featuring hands on learning opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.  The STEM trailer program will expose nearly 400 students from seven north central Nebraska counties to careers in manufacturing technologies and sciences.

“On behalf of our project partners – BD Broken Bow, Custer Public Power District, Custer Alliance for Preparing and Advocating for Business and Labor Education (CAPABLE), and ESU#10 – we are excited for the opportunity this grant project will provide to increase knowledge and awareness of technical career paths available in rural Nebraska,” said Becton Dickinson Human Resources Manager Jill Smith.  “The STEM Trailer project has the potential to expose students to industries close to home that they may not have previously considered when choosing a career.”

Aulick Industries’ funding efforts will immerse students in IT and manufacturing career opportunities both in and out of the classroom.  A Career Explorations course and after school program will address industry needs specific to western Nebraska, such as IT jobs in agriculture and health care.  Aulick Industries President and Owner, Vinc Aulick, thanked Governor Ricketts for the opportunity to utilize grant money in partnerships with Bluffs Middle School and the Scottsbluff-area business community.

“Children in our community are future leaders in our regional workforce and funding from this grant will prepare them for high-demand and high-growth jobs within the Manufacturing and IT sectors,” Aulick said.  “Exposing students to practical and hands-on experience in these fields at an early age will provide early training in these jobs and help them establish a strong presence in our community.”

About the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative

In 2015, the Governor proposed DYTI to respond to rapid innovations in the manufacturing and information technology sectors.  Next generation workers in these industries require advanced skill sets and knowledge to help companies compete in the global economy.  Meeting workforce demands will continue to require innovative approaches to develop a youth talent pipeline, and this initiative has been a step toward laying the groundwork for that pipeline.

Through this initiative, the Governor and DED awarded financial assistance to four Nebraska businesses between 2015 and 2017. MetalQuest in Hebron and Distefano in Omaha received grants during the 2016-2017 school year.  The DYTI funded grants for Flowserve in Hastings, and Hollman Media, LLC, of Kearney during the 2015-2016 school year.

How Business Qualify for the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative

Businesses that qualify for DYTI are those in the manufacturing sector or businesses in need of high-skill information technology professionals.  DYTI grants are provided to private sector for-profit entities.  Businesses are selected by independent scoring by a multiple agency committee.

DYTI grant recipients partner with schools to engage students to participate in hands-on career exploration and relevant workplace learning opportunities.  The programs reach students beginning in the seventh and eighth grades and must demonstrate sustainability and measurable impact.  Student interest and participation in the program may be used as initial metrics, but measures may also include tracking of course-taking patterns through high school, possible work experiences provided by businesses after initial exposure, and tracking of post-secondary plans.