Economic development officials, lawmakers and business leaders are in Des Moines today for a workforce summit. Governor Chet Culver called the summit to address concerns over a looming worker shortage. Officials estimate that by 2012, Iowa could be 150,000 workers short – as baby boomers retire and companies add new jobs.
"Business leaders say they are already having trouble finding openings for high skilled workers and this is before a wave of retirements is expected in the near future," Culver told summit participants at the Polk County Convention Complex. Iowa’s workforce is getting older, while fewer young people are choosing to stay in Iowa after graduating from college.
Culver says Iowa has more workers today between the ages of 45 and 64 compared to 2001. Meanwhile, the state has fewer workers between the ages of 25 and 44 compared to six years ago. Culver says a group of nearly three dozen young adults is working to address the matter. The Generation Iowa Commission will issue a list of recommendations to the legislature next month.
In addition, Culver says steps are being taken to improve math and science education to prepare the future workforce for highly skilled jobs. He’s proposing a $5 million dollar initiative to strengthen science, technology and math curriculum in schools and attract more teachers in those subjects.
A legislative committee is also expected to issue a list of proposals soon to address Iowa’s skilled workforce shortage.