The Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC) is business-led, and comprised of over 100 business, government, education, and non-profit partners all working together to drive results and scale to build a world class tech ecosystem in Nebraska.
Mike Cassling, CEO of cQuence Health and a Governor of Aksarben, heads up the Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC) and has assembled a group of more than 100 leaders and IT professionals, working in five areas of emphasis:
- Talent Attraction, a targeted marketing program to expose young people to the job opportunities available in Nebraska. This program is conducted with the assistance of the Greater Omaha and Lincoln Chambers of Commerce, and also highlights the quality of life and other benefits to living in Nebraska while pursuing a career in technology.
- Diversity and Inclusion, designed to recruit more women and minorities into IT careers. This program includes camps and seminars for girls to learn that coding and technology are not just for boys.
- K-12 Education, working with educators to introduce more technology into curricula and build awareness on oppor- tunities in the technology field.
- Higher Education, facilitating two-year and four-year colleges and universities working with employers to align studies and occupations, including internship programs and placement opportunities after graduation.
- Career Change and Veterans, to focus on a significant segment of the state’s population who are underemployed and/or who need to complete degrees or certificate programs.
Cassling said the number of IT jobs in the region has been flat for the past five years, while such jobs in Kansas City, Des Moines, Denver and other cities have been growing rapidly. “Companies can’t fill jobs here, so a lot of them leave or open offices elsewhere. We need to take action to prevent this,” says Cassling. “Everybody talks about lowering taxes. There are only two ways to do that – cut spending or grow,” he says. “And the best area to grow is in tech. But if we don’t have the people, companies aren’t going to move here.”
The idea of requiring IT training in high school has received support so far from the Millard, Bellevue and Lincoln public schools and the Nebraska Department of Education. “There are a lot of kids who don’t want to or can’t afford to go through four-year programs,” Cassling says. “In many of those cases, technology is a huge opportunity for them to do really well and make good money.”
Aksarben’s first few Technology conferences drew people from more than 50 companies, plus state and local chambers of commerce and the University of Nebraska as well as other universities and colleges. Thus far, Cassling says most of the people involved in the technology effort are from Omaha and Lincoln. “We figured we can start there,” he says, “and we can grow and replicate across the state.”