Aksarben Foundation Partners with Department of Economic Development on Internship Initiative to Grow Nebraska’s Workforce

May 25, 2023 (LINCOLN, NEB.) – Today, Governor Jim Pillen announced a partnership between the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Aksarben Foundation to create and lead a new internship program to strengthen Nebraska’s workforce. Over the past year, Nebraska’s job creation has outpaced the rest of the Midwest and most of the nation, resulting in plentiful opportunities for career advancement. However, many employers are generating jobs faster than they can fill them. The newly formed partnership—InternNE, Powered by Aksarben—aims to better train and retain young Nebraskans to bolster the state’s skilled workforce.

“The State’s workforce development strategy begins with recruiting our own backyard,” said Gov. Pillen. “We want our graduates to stay in Nebraska to start a career here in the Good Life. Our redesigned internship program makes it easier than ever for employers to provide opportunities for talented students to launch their careers in Nebraska.”

InternNE, Powered by Aksarben will connect Nebraska’s students to internships offering valuable experience in high-growth, high-wage, high-demand occupations. The program is also designed to establish relationships between interns and local leaders to help young Nebraskans envision how their talents can help communities grow.

“Investing in the next generation of Nebraska talent is one of the smartest bets we can make,” said Sandra Reding, President of the Aksarben Foundation. “Kids who grow up in Nebraska are taught a strong work ethic, they are well-educated, and they value civic engagement. Through InternNE, we are upping our in-state recruiting efforts of these high-potential leaders. Our business-led model equips employers to design clear pathways connecting students to rewarding careers in Nebraska.”

The Aksarben Foundation has a history of taking initiative to tackle workforce challenges in Nebraska. Through the Nebraska Tech Collaborative which Aksarben launched in 2019, Aksarben is supporting the state’s tech industry with talent recruitment. The Northeast Nebraska Growing Together initiative, which Aksarben launched in 2018, is helping communities in Northeast Nebraska attract and retain highly skilled graduates. Additionally, the Aksarben Foundation awards nearly $1 million annually in scholarships to support promising young students in their post-secondary studies at Nebraska colleges and universities.

“The Aksarben Foundation is made up of civic and business leaders with a proven track record of investing in people to impact Nebraska’s communities,” said DED Interim Director Joe Fox. “The wealth of experience Aksarben brings to the table, in terms of attracting and developing talent, is a tremendous asset. This partnership is going to elevate the State’s internship initiative to an entirely new level of effectiveness.”

InternNE, Powered by Aksarben represents an expansion of the previous State-administered internship program. Companies will now be able to apply for grants to cover costs such as:

  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Internship housing
  • Transportation expenses relating to internships
  • Internship recruitment or administrative costs

The program’s enhanced flexibility will be especially beneficial for small businesses and startups looking to create an internship program.

The Nebraska Legislature expanded the State’s InternNE program through Legislative Bill (LB) 1012 in 2022, allocating $20 million from the Cash Reserve Fund for it that same year through LB 1013.

Details on InternNE, Powered by Aksarben will be forthcoming. The program is slated to begin taking applications this fall.