Helping Iowans fill existing jobs

We’re working hard this session to ensure all Iowa workers and businesses are part of our state’s economic recovery.

That’s why we’re listening when business leaders and economists say that a shortage of skilled workers limits the growth of the Iowa economy. And this problem is expected to get worse in years to come.

Consider this:

** New jobs in Iowa requiring education and training beyond high school are expected to grow by more than 100,000 between 2008 and 2018.

** Iowa will have 527,000 job vacancies as a result of new job creation and retirements between 2008 and 2018. Of these vacancies, 319,000 will require education and training beyond high school.

** By 2018, 62 percent of Iowa jobs—that’s 1.1 million jobs—will require some training beyond high school.

There are many Iowans who could fill those jobs, if they could get the right training.

Current workforce training and adult education programs meet just a fraction of the demand. Yet Iowa remains one of a handful of states that provide NO state dollars for adult basic education and GED programs.

We must be more proactive in preparing workers for the jobs that Iowa businesses need to fill.

Last year, the Senate worked with community college educators and businesses on good ideas to help under-skilled or under-employed Iowans while also assisting Iowa businesses searching for skilled workers. The ideas we developed would take successful initiatives statewide, including:

** The Gap Tuition Assistance program. This initiative helps Iowans use their local community college to earn a credential, a recognized certificate, or prepare to pass a professional exam. These students don’t qualify for most other financial aid, which is why we need to help “fill the gap” so that they can afford the education and training they need.

** Pathways for Academic Career & Employment. Through PACE, as it’s called, community colleges help struggling Iowans learn about local job openings, and about the skills needed to fill those jobs. Then PACE coordinates state and community resources to help Iowans who want to improve their lives.

Iowa has plenty of parents working one or two or three low-wage jobs just to make ends meet. These programs could help them earn an EMT or welding certificate, for example, and move up to a better job.

Posted Jan. 28th, 2012 at 8:00 am by
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