Leaders Called on to Support JAG Nebraska
The stark reality of the workforce post-COVID is revealing a serious gap in jobs and workers. Right now, there are over 50,000 job openings within the State of Nebraska with roughly 22,000 people currently unemployed. It’s a shortage impacting a wide range of career fields from healthcare to the trades. To curb the trend in Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts and Commissioner of Labor John Albin, are putting a full-force effort behind a junior high and high school program spearheaded by United Way of the Midlands called Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).
“JAG Nebraska is the gold standard of state partners,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Their work with our agencies, business leaders, and community members has cultivated Nebraska’s next generation of workers. The students they serve are set up for success in the years to come.”
To strengthen support for JAG Nebraska, Governor Ricketts hosted a luncheon at the Governor’s Residence on Thursday, September 29. A variety of speakers offered their “why” in supporting the program including Labor Commissioner John Albin, a JAG Nebraska student and teacher, participating employer partners and public-school superintendents. “It is our job as a school district to prepare children for the workforce,” said Dr. Cheryl Logan, Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools. “We are a critical part of the preparation. We take that challenge on and are happy to be part of the effort. Jobs for America’s Graduates compliments that work.”
The program is also making an impact in rural schools throughout the state. “We need young people prepared for the workforce, we need soft skills, and we need leadership,” said David Patton, Superintendent of Auburn Public Schools. “Our young people are being exposed to opportunities they didn’t necessarily know would be there.”
Support JAG Nebraska Today!
Founded in January 2019, JAG Nebraska in association with United Way of the Midlands, in partnership with Nebraska Department of Labor and participating school districts, launched with three locations. Since then, the program grew to 24 locations in 12 school districts in just three years. It is a for-credit classroom elective that helps students develop their skillsets to overcome the many challenges they face – all while setting them up for success in the classroom and the workforce. “Every resume I’ve seen from a JAG student has been flawless,” said Jake Gable, Vice President of Commonwealth Electric. “Every JAG student I’ve interviewed has been in the top 10% I’ve seen.”
For the 2021-22 school year, 98% of JAG Nebraska students graduated from high school, compared to 89% of non-JAG students. Currently, 12 school districts across the state offer JAG Nebraska classes – and the program’s goal is to increase capacity to serve more students through sustainable growth by expanding partnerships with school districts statewide.
“I’ve been in education for around 13 years. Being a career specialist with JAG Nebraska really puts me in a prime spot so I can really have that impact,” said Jerry Jones, Jr., a JAG Nebraska Career Specialist at Monroe Middle School in Omaha. “I feel like JAG Nebraska is that pipeline where preparation meets opportunity for our students who might not otherwise have those skills introduced to them to be successful in the workforce.”
But the story of JAG Nebraska’s growth doesn’t end there. There is still need for more support from education, business, and community leaders. From opening business and classroom doors to financial donations, there are multiple ways to get involved and directly support JAG Nebraska. To find out more, click here: JAGNebraska.org