Future Ready Iowa Summit debuts in Muscatine with call for more skilled workers

Although Iowa is posting the lowest unemployment rate in 18 years, communities need to do more to be workforce ready.

It’s no secret that jobs are changing with the times.  While not every career requires a college degree, companies are still struggling to find applicants with the up-skills to qualify for jobs.

“There’s definitely a need for more,” said Mandy Parchert, HNI Corporation, on Friday, September 21. ” I think that everyone here today in the industry would agree that we need more.”

This is the first of more than a dozen Future Ready Iowa Summits.  In a nutshell, it’s a statewide fact-finding mission to identify ways to be workforce ready.

Click here to read John David’s complete article published on the WQAD website. 

With a Skilled Labor Shortage Ahead, Timberland’s New Ads Are Also a Recruitment Drive

The numbers around blue collar jobs are promising. In 2017, according to government data, over 400,000 construction and manufacturing jobs were created in the U.S., showing that there is ample work in the trades. Yet, there is a considerable gap between the number of jobs available and those entering skilled trades like plumbing, electrical, manufacturing and, of course, construction.

In fact, the numbers are staggering. According to Deloitte, over the next decade (through 2025), nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs need to be filled, yet the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs being unfilled. Additionally, six out of 10 open skilled production positions are unfilled due to a talent shortage.

With that in mind, Timberland, promoting Timberland Pro, has created a new campaign that not only celebrates real, skilled tradespeople but serves as a rallying cry and recruitment tool for the people who are shaping the world with their hands.

Click here to read Doug Zanger’s complete article published on the Adweek website. 

A different approach to hiring for the narrow the skills gap


There are many factors at play in creating this shortage, from a 42-year low unemployment rate to the pace of change brought on by technology innovation. What we can agree on however, is that the situation isn’t going to suddenly change – so we need to look at other ways of getting the talent that we so desperately need.

For me, it is a case of being more creative about recruitment. As employers, we need to accept that the traditional approach that has worked for us for so long is no longer relevant to today’s job market. Instead, we need to look outside of our traditional hiring routes and recognize that to get the talent we need, we might need to create it. By that, I mean looking for people who have drive, passion, ambition and a genuine desire to want to work in our industry and training them.

Click here to read Neil Hammerton’s complete article published on The HR Director website. 

Talent pipeline management, manufacturing apprenticeship intermediary program

President and CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce & Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier

Though talent is a renewable resource, manufacturing is lagging in generating a workforce with the needed skills and qualifications required to compete in a global market. Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) is a demand driven solution that works by applying the lessons from supply chain management, used in industry, to manage education and workforce partnerships.

The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST) is working with local manufacturers to generate a clear link between their talent strategy and their business strategy to identify the jobs upon which their competitiveness depends. Employers are the end customers of talent supply chains, working through the TPM initiative with MAST, a preferred network of partners is being put together and managed to supply the talent needed in today’s workforce. As with any supply chain, quality is one of the key activities in this initiative. To be successful infrastructure must be introduced to ensure end-to-end performance tracking at every stage of the supply chain. Beneficiaries of this initiative include:

1. Employers: get a better prepared workforce

2. Providers: achieve better outcomes for students

3. Students and Workers: can access clear career pathways

4. Policy Makers: generate a higher return on their education and workforce investments

Click here to read Todd Tranum’s complete article pertaining to the MAST on the Observer Today website. 

Help wanted: Jobs are available, but finding qualified workers is a challenge

One of Gov. Phil Bryant’s favorite phrases is, “Mississippi wins with people,” when referring to the state’s economic development efforts.


With state unemployment near a record low, it seems the state is doing what it needs to do when it comes to landing the businesses and industries and growing the ranks of tax-paying workers.


“Winning with people” suggests that companies are finding the workers they need and want. And by many regards, they are.

But at separate but related career and workforce development summits last week in Tupelo via the CREATE Foundation, local and regional economic development groups and the Appalachian Regional Commission, it was clear that companies are having more difficulty finding the workers they need. The issue has been bubbling beneath the surface for years, and ironically has only worsened as the overall economy has improved.


The problem of finding enough qualified workers has been exacerbated by a deterioration in what are called soft skills such as strong work ethic, leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving, time management and teamwork.

Click here to read Dennis Seid’s entire article published on the Daily Journal website. 

Bridging the skills gap and finding employees

Ron Wanek is the founder and chairman of the world’s largest furniture manufacturer and retailer, Ashley Furniture Industries. With sales topping $8 billion, Wanek’s company has been an unqualified success.


Northeast Mississippi has been a beneficiary – and contributor – to Ashley’s growth. The company employs some 3,200 people at three facilities in Ecru, Ripley and Verona. The Ecru plant is the largest upholstered furniture plant in the U.S. Ashley’s economic impact in the state is more than $200 million a year. The company does business in 155 countries and has manufacturing and distribution facilities in the U.S. and around the world.


But even a company like Ashley has trouble finding enough skilled workers to fill the jobs that are available. Wanek says a major reason is that the emphasis in education has been misguided.

“Why do we have a skills shortage? For years and years, probably 30 years or more, schools have taught that it’s not great to have a skill, that you should get a degree,” Wanek said. “We didn’t emphasize those skills jobs, the jobs using your hands, for too long. Probably 50 percent of schools don’t teach what used to be called industrial arts, and that’s a shame.”

Click here to read Dennis Seid’s complete article published on the Daily Journal website. 

Schools put new emphasis on CTE path

Surry County Schools has kicked off the new school year with a renewed emphasis on vocational and technical studies.

Last month, Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent, touched on the topic when discussing an agricultural studies barn to be built at North Surry.

Yes, Surry County Schools pushes a college-going culture and emphasizes earning college credits in high school, said the superintendent. However, there is also a growing movement toward re-emphasizing career and technical education (CTE).

TV personality Mike Rowe, of “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” fame, started the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. He speaks publicly to bring awareness to “the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work, highlighting the widening skills gap, and challenging the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people.”

Rowe has posted many times on his Facebook page about this topic such as: “I think a trillion dollars of student loans and a massive skills gap are precisely what happens to a society that actively promotes one form of education as the best course for the most people. I think the stigmas and stereotypes that keep so many people from pursuing a truly useful skill, begin with the mistaken belief that a four-year degree is somehow superior to all other forms of learning.”

Click here to read Jeff Linville’s complete article published on The Mount Airy News website. 

Improving skills through America’s workforce development system

Key Points

  • The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is the primary federal legislation that authorizes many training and workforce development services. These services help train job seekers with skills, but administrative hurdles limit its effectiveness.
  • Congress allocates roughly $4.8 billion for WIOA programs that serve six million participants. While smaller than other postsecondary aid programs, job seekers can combine WIOA funding with other state and federal aid to pay for training—although relatively few individuals navigate eligibility requirements needed to do so.
  • Additionally, few WIOA participants receive and use funding for actual training services. Policymakers and WIOA caseworkers should prioritize training and simplify reporting requirements to encourage a healthy marketplace of WIOA-eligible training providers.

Click here to read Kevin Bauman and Cody Christensen’s complete study published on the American Enterprise Institute website. 

Future Ready Iowa needs funding to close Iowa skills gap

State officials have high hopes for a bridging a skills gap in the Iowa workforce, aiming to ensure that 70 percent of Iowa workers have training or education beyond high school by 2025.

Most Iowans who want work have a job, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said in Cedar Rapids Monday. The unemployment rate — 2.6 percent — is at an 18-year low.

Yet there are 44,000 Iowans looking for work, and more than 60,000 job opening across the state.

In many cases, Townsend told the Downtown Rotary, the barrier to people finding work and employers finding people to fill jobs is that skills gap.

About 128,000 Iowans need to be educated, certified and trained to meet Iowa’s workplace needs. About 58.4 percent of the workforce has met the goals of Future Ready Iowa, but that’s up just three-10ths of a percent from the previous year.

“My expectation is that when we do get an appropriation, we would see an increase of certainly more than three-10ths of a percent each year,” she said later.

Click here to read the rest of James Lynch article published on The Gazette website. 

New $3-million program could help close skills gap in advanced manufacturing

A skills gap that could leave as many as 2 million manufacturing jobs unfilled by 2025 is one of the driving forces behind a new Clemson University program that for the first time matches graduate students with technical college students on an assembly line built for research.

The new program, THINKER, is the first in the nation to bring together graduate students and technical college students in an advanced manufacturing program centered on education and research.

It is backed by $3 million from the National Science Foundation and is aimed at creating well-prepared leaders who can help close the skills gap in advanced manufacturing. By goring through the program, those leaders will understand the interaction of machines, people and data, organizers said.

Economic expansion and baby boomer retirements will likely create a need to fill 3.4 million manufacturing jobs in the nation between 2015 and 2025, but only 1.4 million are likely to be adequately filled, according to a study by Deloitte and the The Manufacturing Institute.

It’s a crucial issue for South Carolina, where the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis says manufacturing accounts for 17 percent of the economy, which is more than 50 percent higher than the national average.

Clemson is responding with a portfolio of research, education, and partnership programs, including THINKER, that are coming together under the Clemson University Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

THINKER is an acronym for Technology- Human INtegrated Knowledge, Education and Research.

Click here to read the entire public release from Clemson University on the EurekAlert website.

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