Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition Publishes Workforce Policy Agenda, Recommendations for 2016

The Iowa Skills2Complete Coalition, convened for a third consecutive year by workforce intermediary Central Iowa Works, has laid out its 2016 Workforce Policy Agenda with an outlook on the state’s future education and labor force trends.

Middle-skill trades make up 55 percent of the jobs in Iowa’s labor market, according to the results of an Iowa Workforce Development occupational employment statistics survey in 2014. Yet, it is estimated that only 32 percent of working Iowans have the necessary skills and credentials for these types of professions.

The Iowa Department of Education predicts that low-skills jobs will face steep declines over the next 10 years as the employment of middle-skill workers rises to include 39 percent of the state’s labor force. The growth rate for middle-skill occupations in fields such as administrative support, health care technology and construction is more than twice that of Iowa’s annual job growth rate.

A need for job education and skills training in the form of associate, certificate or apprenticeship programs, among others, will likely be exacerbated by the ongoing retirement of Baby Boomers, and as younger generations step in.

The Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition is a statewide partnership comprising representatives of workforce partnerships, non-profit groups, community based organizations, community colleges, government entities, businesses, labor unions and others. It has laid out seven recommendations centered on building greater policymaker support for initiatives to grow the Iowa economy.

The 2016 agenda includes a call for ongoing investments in the education and advancement of the state’s workforce, alongside initiatives to help Iowans overcome barriers to employment as they pertain to transportation, childcare, and alternative pathways to high school completion. Increasing the recruitment, retention and training of health care and social assistance workers was also emphasized as the industry is expected to account for 40 percent of the state’s growth between 2012 and 2022.

“Given the direction that federal workforce policy is moving, a state-level interest in the skilling up of Iowans has been growing in tandem along side the complexity of serving workers with multiple barriers to employment,” said Pat Steele, site director of Central Iowa Works. “Moving more people out of poverty requires improving incremental credential attainment.

“It is imperative that we ensure ongoing access to high-quality education programs, connecting Iowans with skill-building opportunities and building on smart investments in Iowa’s workforce and industries.”

To access the Iowa Skills2Compete Coalition’s 2016 Workforce Policy Agenda and recommendations, go to www.CentralIowaWorks.org/iowaskills2compete. More information on the core strategy, mission and goals of Central Iowa Works can be found at www.CentralIowaWorks.org/mission-goals.

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