LINCOLN – The Nebraska State College System (NSCS) is requesting state funding in support of a single strategic initiative, NebraskaFWD (Future Workforce Development). NebraskaFWD focuses on investing in the workforce needs of rural Nebraska by:
- Developing a qualified workforce for high-need occupations throughout the state
- Expanding student access to higher education; and
- Increasing college affordability and decreasing student debt
The NSCS’s single strategic initiative prioritizes Nebraska workforce needs, in partnership with the State of Nebraska. The initiative responds to the existing financial challenges of NSCS students through scholarships targeted at academic programs that will help meet current statewide workforce needs. This initiative assures stable or decreasing tuition rates, resulting in improved retention and graduation rates, creating additional workforce in targeted fields of study, and lower student debt at graduation.
“I am very excited about NebraskaFWD initiative, and believe it will make a difference for our students, for the Colleges of the NSCS, for the rural regions we serve, and ultimately for the entire State of Nebraska,” said Stan Carpenter, Chancellor of NSCS. Through NebraskaFWD, the state colleges are positioning themselves to help our students follow a more structured route to achieve a four-year degree and then on to a career in Nebraska.”
The biennium request is for $5 million per year for NebraskaFWD. The request covers core need expenses like operational and staffing costs for NSCS as well as funds for NebraskaFWD. Generally, $2.5 to $3.3 million is needed each year to cover the core needs of the System. The remaining funds will be dedicated to NebraskaFWD. Because of the importance of this initiative, NSCS proposed that the initiative span two bienniums (4 years).
Assuming the State provides funding for the core needs of the NSCS, the proposed uses of funding from this initiative include:
- Targeted scholarships in areas of workforce needs in Nebraska, especially in rural parts of the state
- Stable or decreasing tuition rates
NSCS presidents are holding community roundtables with business and industry stakeholders across the state to explore potential areas of workforce need, with the goal of graduating more students in strategically selected programs aligned to workforce needs – especially in rural Nebraska, but also statewide.
Additionally, NSCS and the state colleges are working to create the foundation for NebraskaFWD by proposing a partnership with the Nebraska Department of Labor to identify high-need workforce opportunities and create a pipeline of talent that has the higher education needed to be successful in their chosen career path.
The NSCS and the college presidents are also compiling input from education leaders on workforce needs and how joint partnerships can increase the number of four-year degree graduates.