An Iowa business group is working with the state’s community colleges to boost programs that develop work skills, like welding, that are in short supply.There are manufacturing jobs available all over this state,” says Iowa Association of Business and Industry president Mike Ralston. “In fact, the number one issue for ABI-member companies is they need people.”
Yet many of those job openings remain unfilled because applicants lack the necessary skills for doing those jobs. The association has launched an “Elevate Advanced Manufacturing” program with the state’s community colleges to promote courses that teach those in-demand skills.
“Whether they be graduating high school seniors or older Iowans that are looking for different work, to connect them with manufacturing jobs that are available right now all over this state,” Ralston says.
There’s a website — www.elevateiowa.com — with a “Help Wanted” section as well as a list of community college course offerings. Some community colleges are retooling their classrooms with the latest advanced manufacturing gadgets. Others are bypassing the classroom and offering training programs on the factory floor. The project is financed with a $13 million federal grant. Within five years the state’s manufacturers will have over 6600 job openings that cannot be filled with qualified workers according to the Association of Business and Industry. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds has been leading state government efforts to boost enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math courses.
“Not only is there existing need, but we have a lot of business and industry tell us that they’re really at a place where they could expand,” Reynolds says. “But, again, it comes back to that skills gap and finding the skilled worker they need in order to expand.”
Governor Branstad this morning signed a proclamation declaring this “Manufacturing Week” in Iowa and Branstad will tour 10 Iowa manufacturing companies this week. He visited Agri-Drain in Adair this morning and plans to be at Bohlmann in Denison this afternoon. On Tuesday, the governor plans stops at Miller Products in Osceola and East Penn Manufacturing in Coralville. On Wednesday he’ll be at the Lisle Corporation in Clarinda, Red Oak Manufacturing in Red Oak, Atlantic Bottling in Atlantic, Quality Machine of Iowa in Audubon . On Friday the governor is scheduled to visit Wapsie Valley Creamery in Independence and Bennett Machine and Fabricating in Anamosa.