University of Nebraska Interim President Susan Fritz was joined Friday by leaders in higher education, business and K-12 in testifying before the Legislature about opportunities to meet the growing demand for high-skill, high-demand, high-wage jobs in the state.
In testimony on LR210, an interim study on H3 jobs and workforce needs introduced by Sen. John Stinner of Scottsbluff, Fritz said greater investment in scholarships for students in H3 programs is one strategy that would help address Nebraska’s urgent workforce shortages. In the coming years, Nebraska will have 34,000 annual openings in H3 jobs like engineering, information technology, nursing, teaching and accounting. More than two-thirds of those will require an associate’s degree or higher.
Nebraska’s continued competitiveness, Fritz said, depends on “decisive, creative and collaborative” action now.
“We are losing too many students to institutions in other states – students who should be staying right here in Nebraska to fill the H3 jobs that are key to our future prosperity,” she told members of the Appropriations Committee. “I am convinced that a significantly greater investment in financial aid would make Nebraska more competitive, more accessible and better positioned to build the workforce of the future.”
According to data presented by Fritz, about half of Nebraska students who score a 28 or higher on the ACT enroll at the University of Nebraska. Among Nebraska students who score a 20 to 27, about a third enroll at NU. More financial aid, she said, would put the university and its higher education partners in a more competitive position to attract all students.
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