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

“Collaboration is certainly the way we’re going to close our skills gap,” said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development.
HNI Plant

MUSCATINE, Iowa - 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.

"Collaboration is certainly the way we're going to close our skills gap," said Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development.

Community college programs are taking a bite out of Iowa's unemployment rate.  They offer specialized training and industry partnerships to fill future jobs.

"It's still extremely important for the economy of Iowa to change the workforce, and the only way to change the workforce is to create a more educated workforce," said Bill Decker, Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.

Iowa businesses are finding new ways to grow.  It's up to schools, communities and students to be future ready.

"How do we come together, remove our competition as an industry, and really look to grow the future pipeline of talent to manufacturing?" asked Parchert.

There will be a total of 18 Future Ready Summits across Iowa.  Davenport will host a session in early October.