Lincoln City Council candidate Tammy Ward vowed Wednesday to convene a summit of public- and private-sector officials to find ways to address the city's workforce development and retention crisis, she said.

Ward, who has a consulting business, is running for the northwest Lincoln District 4 seat and will face James Herrold in the May 7 general election.

"While Lincoln’s dynamic economic growth and low unemployment is envied across the nation, we are now facing a shortage of skilled workers," Ward said in a news release. "Workforce development and retention — attracting and keeping young professionals and other workers — must be addressed."

The city's unemployment rate in March was 2.9%, which was under the national rate of 3.8%.

A 2018 report from a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher noted that 70% of employers in the Lincoln metro struggled to hire workers, an increase from three years ago.

Businesses reported fierce competition for employees, while about two of every four employers said workers lacked the necessary skills for the job, the researcher found.

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Ward, who worked in city government, the Nebraska governor's office and the U.S. Senate, said if she's elected she'll gather community leaders and officials from UNL, Southeast Community College, Lincoln Public Schools, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and business leaders to find strategies to what she calls a "workforce crisis."

"We have the greatest city in America, now we need to take the next step and develop goals and plans to attract workers and their families,” she said.

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Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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