LINCOLN- A new Lincoln Skills Gap Report shows that Lincoln’s workforce is meeting many of the needs of businesses, while also indicating a shortage of workers in some skilled blue collar occupations and other select occupations. The report was prepared by Dr. Eric Thompson, Director of the University of Nebraska’s Bureau of Business Research, and commissioned by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the Nebraska Department of Labor. Results from two pilot studies conducted by Economic Development and Labor were examined for the report, the Lincoln Labor Availability Survey and the Make It Work for Lincoln Survey of business needs, as well as other data on the Lincoln economy.
“Results show that Lincoln’s workforce provides most employers with a quality workforce that largely matches the skills that local employers need,” said Dave Dearmont, Research Administrator for the Department of Economic Development. “In those areas where there are shortages, the results indicate the education and training needed to improve the Lincoln workforce.”
The surveys indicate that the reason for difficulty in finding employees in these occupations is not due to wages offered by Lincoln employers. “Workers’ wage expectations during their job search are largely consistent with prevailing wages in the Lincoln Metropolitan Area,” Thompson said.
According to the report, a skills gap is present if it is difficult for a large share of employers to find employees with the necessary skills and experience for particular occupations. The report indicates skills gaps for employers looking to hire computer-related workers, carpenters, electricians, industrial machinery mechanics, machinists and welders. "There is a need for additional education, training and apprenticeship opportunities in skilled blue-collar and STEM occupations," Thompson said.
“The Department of Labor administers a variety of programs that can help prepare workers for employment in the occupations where skills shortages exist,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “This report, along with the surveys, reinforce the need to identify areas where we can further assist workers in obtaining appropriate training and help employers address existing skills shortages.”
The Worker Training Program administered by Labor recently awarded a grant to the Knowledge Management Council to analyze the training needs of industrial machinery mechanics. Results will help Southeast Community College tailor its curriculum to help prepare students for jobs in this occupation.
Lincoln Public Schools, SCC, and the community at large have partnered in a Career Academy initiative. “The Career Academy will develop a pipeline of students pursuing career and technical programs in order to directly address the gap between demand for qualified workers in technical fields and the availability of professionally-trained workers,” Thompson said.
Labor and Economic Development are also collaborating with the Department of Education to provide video tours of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) companies and share with students the education and skills needed for jobs in a wide range of industries. The videos can be viewed at http://necareertours.com/.
The Lincoln Skills Gap Report and each Labor Availability Survey report can be obtained at neworks.nebraska.gov under the Labor Market Information Publications link (Nebraska Labor Availability Studies).