Senate Update: Expanding middle class: Fill job openings by Bob Dvorsky, State Senator · Op-Ed · April 12, 2013
Our community colleges give thousands of Iowans the opportunity to improve their skills and build a better life for their families. They’re also helping to solve one of the biggest problems facing Iowa: the skilled worker shortage.
All over Iowa, businesses are struggling to find the skilled workers they need. Yet compared to other states, Iowa does relatively little to help low-skilled workers move up. For example, Iowa is one of only three states that does not invest in adult literacy.
If we don’t solve Iowa’s shortage of skilled workers, local businesses won’t grow and our state will become less attractive to outside investment. That’s why the Iowa Senate gave bipartisan support this week to investing an additional $25 million to expand skills training at every community college.
Our nationally respected community colleges already work closely with local businesses. Those relationships are an asset when it comes to identifying job openings and helping Iowans fill them—jobs as welders, truck drivers, biofuel technicians, nurses and other skilled occupations.
In five years, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs will require education and training beyond high school. Right now, however, one-sixth of Iowa’s working-age adults don’t even have a high school diploma. If we write off all those folks—nearly 300,000 Iowans—we will shut the door on a stronger Iowa economy.
Senate File 429 is a smart move for Iowans and the Iowa economy. Such Iowa business organizations as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Master Builders of Iowa and the Iowa Chamber Alliance support this effort. It is now under consideration by the Iowa House.
To contact Senator Dvorsky during the week, call the Senate Switchboard at 515-281-3371. Otherwise he can be reached at home at 319-351-0988. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.