Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Nebraska’s community colleges are accepting scholarship applications under the Nebraska Workforce Retraining Initiative (WRI). He encouraged potential applicants to apply soon, as the window to apply for many scholarships will close at the end of August.
“Nebraskans whose income has been affected by the pandemic can apply for a scholarship to gain new skills to grow their earnings,” said Gov. Ricketts. “Nebraskans are resilient and resourceful, and these scholarships are a great way to help our people build a better future for themselves and their families.”
The purpose of the WRI program is to help Nebraskans whose livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic obtain skills to quickly find new opportunities in high-demand jobs and career pathways. WRI is administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL). The initiative is funded by $16 million from the State’s $1.08 billion federal Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation.
Under the program, each community college has designed short-term credit and non-credit training courses that will help scholarship recipients achieve industry-recognized certifications in a variety of high-demand occupations. The colleges will also provide career coaching to help students match their skills and interests to employment opportunities. Every participant will engage with one or more employers during the training process.
“WRI will not only help unemployed or underemployed Nebraskans rapidly recover from economic setbacks to themselves or their families, it will provide a unique opportunity for individuals to hone their skillsets and advance further up the vocational ladder in a high-demand field,” said DED Director Anthony L. Goins. “We anticipate providing over 12,300 scholarships to individuals across the state, and are targeting a 90% job placement rate within three months for those individuals who complete the training.”
“Nebraska’s outstanding community college system is ready to provide top-notch, industry-recognized training to help thousands of our residents launch into a rewarding new job or career path,” said Labor Commissioner John Albin. “We encourage any Nebraskan who is interested not to miss out on this one-of-a-kind opportunity, which could provide lifelong benefits far beyond today’s period of turbulence.”
“We have employers in each one of our community college service areas who are looking for skilled employees,” said Nebraska Community College Association Executive Director Greg Adams. “This scholarship opportunity is about moving quickly to train and place persons whose employment has been negatively impacted by COVID. Knowing the labor needs of Nebraska’s employers and moving quickly to provide needed training is what our colleges are prepared to do.”
Most scholarships will cover the full cost of the training program, with gap financing available to qualifying students to pay for most non-covered costs. Scholarship amounts will be determined by the colleges, with the average of all scholarships not to exceed $1,100.
Participants who were receiving unemployment benefits before being awarded a scholarship may continue to access the benefits, provided they are receiving training in an NDOL-approved program. While a claimant is in approved training, they are excused from the work search requirement. Applicants can apply for this waiver through NDOL.
All WRI training programs are slated to begin this fall, with most ending by December and some lasting until early spring. Examples of the dozens of programs being offered include computer training, health care, business administration, welding technology, truck driving/CDL, and criminal justice. A full program list, plus more information, is available at getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov.
Starting now, Nebraskans should contact one of the six participating community colleges to apply for a scholarship. Some eligibility criteria apply. For example, recipients must be Nebraska residents who experienced unemployment on or after March 13, 2020 as a result of the coronavirus and are now unable to find a job, or who had their wages or hours reduced because of the pandemic. Full eligibility and frequently asked questions can be found at getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov/workforce-retraining-initiative-scholarships.
For complete information and links, visit getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov.