Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Preparing skilled workers in a key to expanding middle class

By Kevin Kinney

Iowa must focus more attention on training skilled workers if we are going to expand our middle class and help working families recover from the national recession.
A skilled workforce is an incentive to employers. Businesses looking to locate and expand in Iowa want to know that they’ll have the workers to make the products and provide the services they offer.
It’s estimated that by 2018, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs (1.1 million jobs) will require some training or education beyond high school, which means Iowa needs more skilled workers.
A recent study commissioned by Iowa’s Economic Development Authority reported that Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers is our state’s most serious economic development weakness. Two-thirds of Iowa companies surveyed are having trouble finding the employees they need. That combined with low population growth among younger Iowans suggests that Iowa could face a problem for a long time if we don’t take action.
Fortunately, Iowa’s outstanding community colleges and nonprofit organizations are preparing workers for local job openings. The Legislature has invested in these efforts, including education, work force development, job training and adult literacy, to ensure the success of Iowa families, a stronger middle class and a growing economy.
This week, legislators heard from students who have taken advantage of new worker training programs to improve their skills and their job opportunities. Pathway Navigators help students figure out what they need to do to get the education and job training that will help land them an in-demand local job. Successful career pathway programs also allow employers to share their perspectives on hiring, technology advances and industry trends that can help develop successful education and job-training programs.
Our community colleges have taken on the challenge of training a skilled Iowa work force, and Iowans of all ages and backgrounds are taking advantage of the opportunities they offer to prepare for meaningful work that will keep our state and citizens competitive.

To contact Senator Kinney when the Legislature is in session, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise, he can be reached at 319-631-4667. E-mail him at kevin.kinney@legis.iowa.gov.

Senator Kinney is vice-chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee. He also serves on the Agriculture, Education, Government Oversight, Judiciary, and Natural Resources & Environment committees.