Today the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) announced the Talent Retention Program, to include a funding award of $1.4 million over three years to support a new program being developed through the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Career Studio.
Modeled after the Nevada Career Studio’s successful Pack Internship Grant Program, the new NV STEM Workforce Internship program will be launched in the 2023 spring semester. It is anticipated to connect more than 300 students with paid, competitive-wage internships with startup and early-stage high growth companies over three years. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) and the University’s Nevada Center for Applied Research will partner with the Nevada Career Studio to recruit employers that meet the industry criteria.
Round-table discussions with startup founders and entrepreneurs prompted Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak to encourage this new Talent Retention Program “with a long-term vision to assist our young engineering and science entrepreneurs.”
“The challenge that was identified was the need for the state to support startups and technology companies by addressing their increasing need for science and engineering graduates,” said Sisolak.
The funding comes from a 2019 settlement with T-Mobile negotiated through the Nevada Attorney General’s Office that included a charitable contribution of $30 million earmarked for enhancing entrepreneurial opportunities for women and under-represented groups. The Talent Retention Program, which includes a similar program being funded and developed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was approved by the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Oct. 20, 2022, and the Nevada State Board of Examiners on Nov. 15, 2022.
“University of Nevada, Reno students are eager to apply their knowledge to real-world experiences, but getting connected to opportunities can be challenging for some students. This talent retention program will provide a new onramp to paid opportunities for our hard-working students to gain experience as they build professional networks with start-ups and entrepreneurial tech companies and contribute to their success,” said Katia Albright, director of the University’s Nevada Career Studio.
By pairing science and engineering students with tech-based companies and startups – and paying a competitive wage of $18 per hour – GOED Senior Director of Strategic Programs and Innovation Karsten Heise noted the “talent retention program” will be a meaningful, targeted and active instrument to prevent a “Nevada Brain Drain.”
“Additional envisioned positive impacts are that this initiative will prompt more women and minority students to enroll in science and engineering degrees as well as what we call a ‘deferred founder’ effect: as Nevada is home to large numbers of first-generation college students who are understandably more risk-averse but as the result of (this) experience will turn into startup founders after having spent an initial few years as employees at technology companies in Nevada,” said Heise.
“By connecting our students to cutting-edge experiences that are based right here, it can make ‘Home Means Nevada’ a reality for more of our graduates than ever before,” said Albright.