Two Nebraska companies win grant to encourage manufacturing jobs to students

Posted By: Alden German

Two Nebraska companies were each awarded a lot of money Friday. It’s from the Developing Youth Talent Initiative, otherwise known as DYTI, a program started by the state a couple years ago to help get young students exploring career opportunities in manufacturing and technology.

Nucor Steel, based in Norfolk, and Reinke Manufacturing, based in Deshler, are the two companies who won.

"We look forward to the opportunity to engage with these areas’ 7th and 8th grade students with the hands on learning opportunities in a fun and very interesting way," said Jason Ternus of Nucor.

Each company will receive $125,000.

The grant encourages private companies to work with 7th and 8th graders in nearby school districts to see what career opportunities are available and keep them engaged with those opportunities through high school and beyond.

The hope is that it will create a stronger Nebraska workforce in future years, especially with millions of manufacturing jobs expected to be opening over the coming decade; but why 7th and 8th graders specifically?

"Providing opportunities for younger students to experience and interact with STEM technologies sparks an interest in manufacturing and technology at a critical juncture in their education where career exploration is just beginning," said Jill Smith of Becton Dickinson, a past recipient of the award.

Similar programs from private companies in the past focused on high schoolers, but it was often found that it was too late to influence older students towards a different area of interest. The program also strengthens community bonds.

"Developing Youth Talent Initiative is at its core a partnership. It’s a partnership between the public and private sectors," said Dave Ripply, Director of Economic Development. "It’s a partnership between educators and communities and the state and driven, certainly, by the companies."

To date, DYTI has worked with nearly 25 school districts and around seven thousand students. The state allots $250,000 annually in its budget for the program.


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