KNPR

Nevada Issues $626,000 In Grants To Train High-Tech Workers

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Laura A. Oda/MCT/Landov

Nevada is investing hundreds of thousand of dollars in workforce training as the state continues to diversify its economy.

The Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology awarded $626,000 to the College of Southern Nevada, among others statewide.

College of Southern Nevada received $150,000 to create a new associate’s degree in cyber security. The program is being developed by Switch.

So what does the state want in return for its investment? And how were the grant recipients chosen?

Brian Mitchell is the director of Governor's Office of Science, Technology and Innovation. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that his department will have a $1 million grant each year for workforce challenge grants targeted for STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, education.

STEM includes everything from advanced degrees like doctors and biologist to skilled workers like welders. 

Mitchell said much of the idea for the grants is based on a report by the Brookings Institute. 

"The authors concluded that Nevada had a really functioning and well developed economic development strategy to diversify the economy and attract high tech companies like Tesla and Faraday, but we didn't have a workforce training system that could produce enough workers with the kind of STEM skills these companies were looking for."

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Mitchell said the diversification efforts will bring in more high tech industries; however, he said it is important to realize current employers are also looking for people with STEM training. 

"I think it is really easy to forget with all the focus on these new employers like the Teslas and the Faradays that Southern Nevada's long standing employers in gaming and hospitality have a great need for people with computer programming and cyber security skills," he said. 

According to Mitchell, Gov. Brian Sandoval asked the Legislature to appropriate the money, which it did. Mitchell's department will get another million dollars to give away in grants in July.

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Brian Mitchell, director, Governor’s Office of Science, Technology and Innovation

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