The speaker at the April 16, 2019, Norfolk Rotary Club meeting was Mike Flood, former state legislator and current attorney and businessman. He is probably best known, most recently, for his ownership in Flood Communications which owns News Channel Nebraska (NCN).


He discussed some studies and initiatives from Blueprint Nebraska and the Aksarben Foundation. These initiatives are geared toward making long-term tax changes in the State of Nebraska to help balance property, sales, and income taxes. They also are intended to encourage business location here in Nebraska while diversifying Nebraska’s economy.


This past September, the Aksarben Foundation approached Mike about getting his perspective on Nebraska workforce issues. He agreed to help with some workplace development initiatives. Currently, Nebraska has about 55,000 open jobs. More technical skills are being pushed in the community colleges. Economic diversification is key since agriculture is overwhelmingly the biggest industry in the state. With increasing technologies, fewer workers will be needed in the future.


Automation, in the next 10 years, will greatly reduce employment in the following sectors of the economy by:


-Food services: 73%

-Manufacturing: 60%

-Transportation/Warehousing: 60%

-Agriculture: 57%

-Retail Trade: 53%


This data points to the idea that we need to plan on creating jobs now to replace other jobs. The economy is moving away from means and production and transitioning rapidly to innovation and knowledge. The result will be fewer jobs; however, the new jobs that will be created will require higher skills that will result in higher pay. People need to start coming to terms with this eventuality and to start combating the issue.


Nebraska does a great job in raising our youth from birth to 18 years of age, and the state also does well for adults about 30 years of age to death. We prep our children to be great leaders, but they usually leave the state and are those great leaders elsewhere. Nebraska needs to also concentrate on improving work conditions for people aged 18-30. Many people in that age group leave the state for “bigger and better” opportunities elsewhere and not all of them move back here.


Six big factors show how Nebraska youth are raised well. They are:


1)      Many opt-in activities exist, especially in the schools.

2)      Strong, informal support systems exist.

3)      Good early career pathways exist.

4)      Good life skills.

5)      Accessing opportunities.

6)      Good sense of community.


The main point is that Nebraska has to confront automation to create higher skilled jobs that will have higher pay.