Google aims to help Nebraska’s demand for construction workers

OMAHA, Nebraska — At least 100 teens, mostly in Omaha and Lincoln, will be offered a jump-start to a career in the construction industry and skilled trades as the result of a $150,000 Google grant.

The global technology giant on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Nebraska chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors that will provide pre-apprentice training to high school seniors and recent graduates.

The building and contractors group is to supply teachers, job shadow experiences and career fairs for the Construction 101 Certification Program, which is to be based at training centers in Omaha, Lincoln and possibly Council Bluffs.

$300 stipend

The Google funds are to cover tuition and book costs, transportation, child care and meals. Students are to receive a $300 stipend upon completion of the program that introduces them to foundational skills needed to land a job in the construction industry during an era of record demand for workers.

Nebraska employment data shows the state with its lowest unemployment rate ever.

The latest state data shows that private industries with the most job growth during the last month were leisure and hospitality and construction.

The goal of the training program, said Anne Klute, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Nebraska South Dakota Chapter, is to help fill the demand for skilled construction professionals and to engage a population in need of workforce opportunities.

“Google’s support will help us reach more community members who lack access to education and support needed to get into the construction and trade industries,” Klute said. “These programs are designed to help individuals find a meaningful job that offers security, room to grow and financial stability for them and their families.”

Klute said that more than 46,000 workers in Nebraska have already chosen a career in construction, yet a “massive” skilled workforce shortage still exists. She cited an analysis by the ABC, which reported that the construction industry nationally needs to attract nearly 650,000 additional workers on top of the normal pace of hiring in 2022 to meet the demand for labor.

The report said the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act and stimulus from pandemic relief is expected to pump billions in new spending into infrastructure projects.

Build people who build places

Of the Google grant, Klute said: “Investments like these build the people who are building the places where we live, work, play, heal and learn, and this foundational program will equip these local workers with the tools they need to build their career dreams.”

Wendy Peterson, Google’s regional workforce development leader, said the company is thrilled to work with the ABC. The grant is part of a larger effort to connect more Americans to quality training and jobs.

This year, Google is contributing $1.2 million toward education and pre-apprenticeship training programs for construction and skilled trades in five states where it operates data centers.

Klute said the funds should cover enrollment of at least 100 students, and probably more, depending on various factors.

Participants are to receive insight into job opportunities, as well. For more information or applications call 402.477.4451.

Google entered Nebraska in 2019, with a data center in Papillion. Earlier this year, the company broke ground on a data center in northwest Omaha.

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