Kirkwood, economic development partners cite research study results
A local consortium of economic development professionals has just completed an extensive study of area workforce readiness and skill level factors. The Skills 2010 Report was presented in a public conference at Kirkwood Community College today.
Representatives of Kirkwood, Priority One and the Iowa City Area Development Group unveiled the study, citing areas of strength and challenge to future economic strength and business growth in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Technology Corridor. As part of the detailed study, the group also presented nine recommendations for development and improvement of the Corridor’s competitive stance in the regional, national and global economies.
Researchers for the report conducted extensive surveys of area employees in a dozen industry sectors. Employers were chosen across a range of company size, sector and geographic location in an attempt to provide an equal representation within the Corridor region. A total of 153 employers completed the research responses to inform the study.
Kirkwood Vice President of Continuing Education and Training Services, Dee Baird said the study revealed “important and tangible data” for area employers and leaders.
“A key finding we discovered was the scope of new and replacement workers needed in the next three years,” Baird observed. “The projections from these employers told us that this region will need over 5,000 new workers, plus more than 11,000 replacement workers by the end of 2010. You should remember that this total of more than 16,000 workers is just for the employers surveyed. This is a much larger figure than the one we found in the Skills 2006 Report. It tells us there is a lot to do to meet that demand and that need.”
Iowa City Area Development Group Chair Jeff Disterhoft said the region “continues to prosper and receive national recognition” for economic success.
“This report identifies new and replacement job growth projections for our Corridor. The Skills 2010 Report allows us to strategically plan for shifts in our increasingly knowledge-based economy. This information is invaluable for our area,” Disterhoft said.
The Skills 2010 Report also uncovered some key facts relating to current and prospective employee skill sets and abilities. Highlights included:
· Of the employers surveyed, 73 percent indicated critical skills were missing from their applicant pools.
· Fifty nine percent of the respondents indicated skills were missing from their incumbent worker pool.
· Employers identified “technical and essential foundational and soft skills” as lacking in both applicant pools and among existing workers.
· Of the total employee hiring needs cited, 73 percent of all replacement and new jobs will require education beyond a high school diploma.
A key part of the Skills 2010 report was a set of recommendations made to area education, business and community leaders. The nine recommendations are:
1. Continue to promote and reinforce with Corridor employers the importance of foundational skills for future and incumbent employees by requiring or recommending the Skills Advantage Work Ready Certificate.
2. Direct Corridor employers to require or recommend the Skills Advantage Core+ certificate and personality tests.
3. Encourage high schools and post-secondary institutions to adapt curriculum and graduation requirements to focus on gaps in foundational skills.
4. Elevate the need to establish or maintain work-based linkages such as internships and job shadowing.
5. Promote the importance of a seamless system delivery between K-12 and regional higher education institutions.
6. Expand efforts to inform high school and college students about employment/career opportunities within the Corridor.
7. Develop a systematic approach to identify and recruit new employees to Iowa from outside the state and region.
8. Provide wage and benefit data to our existing companies on a regular basis, to aid them in their recruitment and retention work.
9. Encourage and assist area employers to create a workplace culture that embraces a diversified workforce.
Further information on the Skills 2010 Report are available from Kirkwood Continuing Education, (319) 398-5548. A copy of the report is available upon request.