Labor market and education data analysis from EMSI was instrumental in Central Community College’s latest grant success—a $2.17 million Community-Based Job Training Grant from the Department of Labor. The grant is targeted toward advanced manufacturing and specifically enhancing equipment and curriculum at the Midwest Center for Plastics & Design.
This is the third time in four years that the Nebraska college has been awarded a large-scale job training grant. The last two were directed toward health care and transportation.
It’s finding (hard data) that makes our job challenging, and EMSI meets our needs.
CCC grants manager Nancy Bjorklund says writing successful grant proposals boils down to a number of key steps: they must be thorough, well-written, and always backed up with objective data. That last point is especially crucial. “It’s finding those statistics that makes our job challenging, and EMSI meets our needs,” she says.
CCC encompasses a 25-county region in central Nebraska that is home to approximately 300,000 residents. The sparsely-populated area makes it imperative that Bjorklund and her colleagues have the up-to-date, detailed data that EMSI supplies. “We have to really know our labor market when we apply for grants,” she says. In the latest instance, EMSI projections showed the manufacturing sector in CCC’s service area will grow by 15.5% in the next decade, compared to 4.2% statewide.
The new state-of-the-art center will train drafters/designers, industrial engineering technicians, welders, and other high-skilled manufacturing and mechatronics occupations. The center is expected to strengthen the region’s economic and workforce development opportunities by eliminating the shortage of skilled workers.
“The belief is that plastics is a pretty good economic development opportunity for our state,” says Kelly Christensen, Associate Dean for Instruction, Trades, and Industry at CCC. Plastics make sense to manufacture in the region, which is almost 1,500 miles from both the east and west coast, because they are light and inexpensive to ship.
Christensen says the grant will also go toward raising career awareness among junior high and high schoolers about the continuing need for skilled manufacturing workers.