NORFOLK, Neb. -- Northeast Nebraska employers gathered in Norfolk to hear about a chance to grow their workforce, while giving Wayne State College's brightest students a leg up in their professional development.

Dr. Michael Keibler from Wayne State College laid out the process for employers seeking to participate in WSC's Growing Together Career Scholars Co-Op Program. A coffee meet-and-greet was held Thursday by the program's organizers at the Norfolk Public Library.

According to Keibler, the program connects employers to the next generation of workforce leaders. It places scholarship students into an accelerated learning program on campus, before giving them a chance to participate in a two-semester employment cycle.

He said it gives employers an opportunity to work with northeast Nebraska's most qualified job candidates before they join the workforce, while giving the students valuable experience before graduation.

The current focus is on students in business and economics, computer technology and information systems, mass communication, and industrial technology.

Participating employers and students will interview and connect. Once landing on their employer, students will be housed in newly built residences as part of the program, while also receiving compensation and scholarship money.

Employers already employing students through current jobs or internships can submit direct hire offers to their existing employees who are part of the Growing Together program.