Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, voted on Monday to grow Iowa's economy by helping Iowa businesses fill openings for skilled workers.
Sodders voted to expand proven skills training efforts at Iowa Valley Community College and North Iowa Area Community College and other Iowa community colleges. These efforts have helped over 100 local students attend Marshalltown Community College. The colleges work with local businesses to identify local jobs that can't be filled, and then help students qualify for those jobs.
"If we don't solve Iowa's shortage of skilled workers, Iowa businesses won't grow and Iowa will become less attractive to outside investment," Sodders said. "We've got people who want to move up and our local community colleges can help them do just that. I believe investing in Iowans is a smart way to strengthen our economy for the long-term."
Iowa business organizations such as the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Master Builders of Iowa, and the Iowa Chamber Alliance support Senate File 429, the legislation Sodders helped pass. Provisions in the bill detail how community colleges will work with local employers to identify skill shortage areas and create courses to address them.
"In five years, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs will require education and training beyond high school," Sodders said. "Right now, however, one-sixth of Iowa's working-age adults don't have a high school diploma. If we write off everyone in that group of nearly 300,000 people, we will shut the door on efforts to building a stronger Iowa economy."
Compared to other states, Iowa makes relatively little effort to help low skilled workers improve their abilities. For example, Iowa is one of only three states that does not invest in adult literacy.
"I've talked to people who have greatly improved their situation by earning a commercial driver's license or becoming a certified nursing assistant," Sodders and. "We should take these successful pilot programs and make them available to every Iowan looking to learn new skills."