Bridging the Skills Gap

Research & Engagement, 2014



Bridging the Skills Gap was a research-based, data-driven pilot project that identified community-based workforce development strategies aimed at assisting rural communities to be more strategic and competitive in their workforce planning initiatives. The research pilot area consisted of six counties in northeast Nebraska and four counties in central South Dakota — in many ways, a microcosm of small town America. Agriculture, manufacturing and health care are mainstays of the local economy throughout these communities.


While rural communities in the Great Plains, Midwest and across the US cannot alter the course of the global economy, they can take action to be more strategic and competitive in addressing local skills gaps and ramping up labor supply. This RFI-funded project focused on several pathways and strategies communities can adopt to enhance labor market outcomes and also considered the important role the US Land-Grand Extension System can play in getting the conversation started along with enhancing local capacity for change.

A labor market assessment model was used to address skills gaps in rural communities to improve local workforces and enhance long-term economic growth. This model provides local decision makers with tools needed to address local workforce needs that leads to increased confidence and capacity building.

Project summary, overview, details and findings >>


Project Team








Contact: Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel,