Fund skill training to fill Iowa jobs

May 10, 2013

Over 3 million jobs nationally are going unfilled, in part because employers report that they are unable to
find workers with the necessary skills.

A recent Manpower survey found 52 percent of U.S. employers struggled to fill critical positions in 2011,
up from just 14 percent in 2010.

Simply put, we have more low-skill workers than low-skill jobs, and more middle-skill jobs than we have
middle-skill workers.

In Iowa, 56 percent of jobs require middle-skill training, but only 33 percent of residents have the
necessary skills and credentials.

Yet, Iowa is only one of three states that do not put targeted state funds to support adult basic education.

The Quad Cities face this problem of a skills gap every day. We want and need skilled workers to keep our
businesses thriving here in the Quad Cities.

United Way of the Quad Cities Area has formed an Income Council made up of the leading experts on
financial stability in our community, including business leaders and other organizations. The goal of this
Council is to provide low-income families with the tools they need to become financially stable.

Also, United Way has partnered with the Hubbell-Waterman Foundation to provide job reskilling for underemployed or newly unemployed workers.

These workers enroll in short-term courses lasting around three to six months. At the end, they are certified for a new skill, which allows them to quickly get back into the workforce.

Another way we can help our community is through legislation recently passed by the Iowa Senate that would invest state dollars in proven workforce development practices: adult basic education such as high school equivalency programs, Career Pathways programs and pathway navigators, which put more low-skill adult workers on a path toward the necessary skills for employment.

Learning new, employable skills is good for the workers, good for our industries, and good for our economy. We urge the House to take action on this section of HF604, the education appropriation bill.

Scott Crane
President, United Way of the Quad Cities Area