Changes to internship program advance

Senators advanced a bill from general file April 23 that would make changes to a recently created internship grant program.

Holdrege Sen. Tom Carlson, introducer of LB476, said the InternNE program has been very successful at creating quality internships for young people in the state.

Since the program’s inception two years ago, Carlson said, over 200 businesses and almost 400 interns have participated in InternNE, which is administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). More than half of those interns were offered full-time positions with the companies for which they interned, he said.

Carlson said small changes to the program would allow more young people to benefit.

“This bill changes the emphasis … to the quality of the internship,” he said.

Under the bill, a resident student enrolled full-time in a college, university or other institution of higher education in Nebraska would be eligible for an internship.

Minimum weekly and hourly internship requirements would be replaced with a requirement that the internship be of a sufficient duration to allow the student to gain significant, valuable work experience and knowledge.

Increased grant amounts for distressed areas would be replaced with a maximum reimbursement up to 75 percent of the cost of the internship or $5,000.

In addition, LB476 would require DED to develop an action plan to set program priorities and grant selection criteria.

A Business and Labor Committee amendment, adopted 26-0, would further increase the maximum grant amount to $7,500 if an employer shows that an intern was a Federal Pell Grant recipient at the time of the internship grant application.

The amendment also would require the department to market the internship program to high schools and higher education institutions with a focus on attracting underserved student populations.

The bill advanced to select file on a 26-0 vote.

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