Bridging the Skills Gap Introduction
As the economy recovers from the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession, communities across rural America continue to grapple with slow employment growth, population loss and waning workforce vitality. Bridging the skills gap: workforce development in rural communities in the Great Plains is a pilot project funded by the Rural Futures Institute Research and Engagement competitive grant program (2014 – 2016). It brought together a team of researchers and practitioners from Purdue, the University of Nebraska and South Dakota State University to investigate ways rural communities can more effectively address local workforce development needs in this era of reshoring and global competition. The project involved a detailed assessment of the economic characteristics of the two participating pilot regions located in the Great Plains and engaged over 120 community stakeholders from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.