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Iowa governor proposes $18 million for worker training

January 16, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Kim Reynolds wants to spend about $18 million on worker training programs in the next couple years to ensure Iowa employers can fill jobs at a time of low unemployment.

Reynolds announced new policies to address Iowa’s shortage of qualified workers in her Condition of the State address on Jan. 8, the Des Moines Register reported .

The governor’s initiative, the Future Ready Iowa Act, aims to ensure that 70 percent of workers in Iowa have received training or education beyond high school by 2025.

Linda Fandel, a special assistant for education in the governor’s office, said Reynolds will request $2.6 million in fiscal year 2019 to launch the program. Reynolds will seek about $18 million by fiscal year 2020. Fandel said these are rough estimates.

Iowa had a 2.9 percent unemployment rate in November, below the national rate of 4.1 percent. Employers consistently express concern over being unable to find qualified workers for job openings.

According to the Iowa Workforce Development website, there are currently 50,000 jobs vacant in the state.

“We know we have that gap and we know we need to fill it,” Fandel said. “This initiative is also about creating the opportunity for more Iowans to have rewarding careers that allow them to support their families and see their families thrive.”

The governor proposed expanding work-based learning opportunities and the state’s apprenticeship program. Reynolds recommended creating a scholarship for residents who pursue up to a two-year degree in a high-demand field, as well as a grant program for those who didn’t finish their four-year degree. She also suggested forming an Employer Innovation Fund to match private sector spending on training programs.

Legislation is still being drafted, but Fandel said the program will rely on business partnerships across the state.

“This has got to meet employer needs first or it simply won’t work,” she said. “They want to innovate and grow and they’re being held back and held up by the skilled workforce shortage.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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