Education Majors Now Eligible for High-Demand Jobs Scholarships
30 Jan 2023
Graduating seniors, current college students or underemployed workers seeking a Phelps County career are encouraged to apply for High Demand Jobs Scholarships offered by the Phelps County Development Corporation and the Phelps County Community Foundation.
The scholarships assist students studying for careers that are in high demand in Phelps County, such as manufacturing/production trades, agriculture-related fields, construction and maintenance trades and medical fields.
And for 2023, teachers have been added to the list of high-demand careers in Phelps County.
Holdrege Public Schools Superintendent Todd Hilyard said teacher openings in Holdrege that once may have drawn about 100 applicants are now drawing 8-12.
“We've been lucky at Holdrege Public Schools, however, it is getting increasingly difficult,” Hilyard said. “Five to ten years ago, we could almost be guaranteed to find quality applicants in most areas as late as April. Now, you hope for one or two quality applicants in the pool of candidates as early as February or March.”
Hilyard said that in our nation's history, teachers were some of the most well-respected occupations.
“Now, nationally there seem to be more critics of teachers, and many young adults have the mindset that, ‘I can make a lot more money doing something else and not have to put up with what many teachers have to put up with both in and out of the classroom.’”
While the teacher shortage is a national trend, Hilyard said it is “only exacerbated in smaller towns that may be a little off the beaten path. Many young adults tend to be drawn to larger towns and cities where they can find more things to do and where they may have more perceived opportunities.”
However, teaching can be a rewarding career both financially and personally, especially in a small town like Holdrege.
Hilyard said first-year teachers at HPS earn $40,984 plus benefits including full family insurance with the premium paid fully by the district. They are also enrolled in the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System. A very experienced teacher with a master’s degree and 36 additional graduate-level hours past the master’s degree would earn $73,132 this year. Those who have extra-duty assignments, such as coaching, earn even more.
“I think this really shows the false assumption that many have that you can’t make a decent wage or support your family on the salary and benefits of a teacher,” Hilyard said.
The Holdrege superintendent said he is “incredibly excited about this opportunity that PCDC is offering to help address this problem. I am cautiously optimistic that it may encourage more of our local students to consider a noble profession and return to make a difference in our student’s lives.”
The High Demand Jobs Scholarship applications are due February 15 and are available through the Phelps County Community Foundation’s scholarship portal at www.phelpsfoundation.org.
Scholarship recipients must agree to live and work in Phelps County for at least one year for every thousand dollars they receive. Scholarship recipients who do not return to Phelps County will be asked to repay the scholarships.