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Navigating Nebraska's Workforce Challenge: Insights from Workforce Hope

Despite Nebraska's preliminary unemployment rate for July 2023 being at a mere 2%, seasonally adjusted, the workforce shortage remains a persistent issue. This rate, though low, reflects a 0.1 percent increase from the June 2023 rate of 1.9 percent, and it ties Nebraska for the fifth lowest unemployment rate with North Dakota.

Despite these low unemployment rates, the workforce shortage continues to challenge Nebraska. This shortage is a complex issue with profound implications across various industries, and it demands innovative solutions. In the following exploration, we delve into the intricacies of Nebraska's workforce dilemma and how organizations like Workforce Hope are dedicated to being part of the solution.

Understanding Nebraska's Workforce Dilemma: A Complex Challenge

Nebraska's workforce shortage is multifaceted, affecting industries across the spectrum. As articulated by Zac Karpf, Chief Operating Officer of Platte Valley Bank and a member of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board, "Manpower is the number one issue." This shortage of skilled labor is especially pronounced amidst the backdrop of a low unemployment rate.

Unfortunately, there is no quick solution for Nebraska's workforce challenge. Even if educational programs were initiated to equip individuals with the necessary skills, they would be insufficient for the immediate demands. The real challenge lies in urgently securing a qualified workforce. Leslie Andersen, a board member of the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board, underscores this urgency, stating, "We need to import them from somewhere or clone them. But that would be the only headwind that we really have." This reflects the gravity of the situation, one that we must address to avoid situations similar to Kawasaki’s.

Mike Boyle, President of Operations at the Kawasaki Plant in Lincoln, offers a tangible example of how the workforce shortage hampers business expansion. Despite a substantial $200 million investment in the Lincoln plant, with plans to employ over 500 workers and open a new plant, Kawasaki opted against further expansion in Nebraska due to the scarcity of labor. This decision not only impacts the state's economic growth but also reverberates at a national level.

The healthcare industry also bears the brunt of the workforce shortage. Eric Mooss, CEO of Bryan Medical Center, highlights their challenges with approximately 360 open positions spanning clinical and support roles. Mooss underscores the critical need for a fully staffed healthcare team, emphasizing, "We need people to take care of people". The shortage's ripple effect extends to smaller rural hospitals, raising the specter of service restrictions or closures.

Workforce Hope: A Collaborative Solution

Workforce Hope is acutely aware of Nebraska's pressing workforce challenge and is steadfast in its commitment to being part of the solution. Our approach involves rigorous selection and preparation of candidates from Latin America to meet the unique needs of employers spanning healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and more. Recognizing that addressing this workforce shortage requires a statewide effort involving government, businesses, educational institutions, and the community, Workforce Hope offers avenues to import this much-needed workforce. Legal pathways such as the TN visa for Mexican workers and humanitarian parole for individuals from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are among the solutions we provide.

Forging a Prosperous Future for Nebraska

For those interested in learning more about Workforce Hope's role in Nebraska or exploring potential partnerships, please don't hesitate to reach out. Together, through collaboration and innovation, we can chart a path towards a prosperous future for the state.


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