By State Senator Steve Sodders
To build a skilled workforce and strong economy, the state must be a good partner to Iowa’s 15 community colleges and local businesses. That’s why we’re continuing our investment this year in opportunities for job training, apprenticeships, high school completion, skills certification and credentials that will put more Iowans on the path to good jobs.
Iowa has rebounded better than most states from the national recession, but too many people remain unemployed. The gap between the technical skills that workers have and those needed by today’s cutting edge businesses continues to grow. According to a new Pathways to Prosperity report from the Council of State Governments, thousands of well-paying jobs are available in Iowa but workers are not prepared to fill them.
The nonpartisan Council of State Governments praises Iowa’s efforts to prepare skilled workers. Their Pathways to Prosperity report highlights initiatives like Elevate Iowa, which is expanding training at our community colleges in such fields as welding and industrial maintenance, with special emphasis on helping the underemployed, veterans and minorities.
In addition, Future Ready Iowa is focusing on ways to better align education and job-training initiatives to close the skills gap and meet future employer needs. It’s getting off the ground with a $170,000 National Governors Association grant. The money will help Iowa continue innovative programs and collaborations to build a skilled workforce ready to take on local job openings.
What’s more: this summer, the state of Iowa was awarded more than $5 million through the U.S. Department of Labor to develop innovative job-training programs focused on regional needs. The goal is to connect unemployed Iowans to on-the-job training, apprenticeships, career planning and more.
To cap it all off, Iowa Workforce Development recently unveiled a new easy-to-navigate website at www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov. It’s customer focused with content organized so that visitors can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for, including skills assessments and training opportunities.