Iowa Workforce Development launches free workforce strategy roundtables

(The Center Square) – Beginning Sept. 22, Iowa Workforce Development will hold a series of free workforce roundtables across the state to address workforce shortages.

The roundtables will take place at local community colleges and IowaWORKS field offices on 25 dates that last through November, the agency said. All attendees can learn about existing workforce strategies they can adopt and resources that can help with hiring, retraining and upskilling employees as well as collaborating with community and education partners, “and removing barriers such as childcare concerns that sometimes can block Iowans from entering the workforce.”

The agency encourages employers, local business members and educators to attend the events..

“Several agencies in Iowa have workforce development programs and funding available to help employers create a robust workforce.… Roundtables will be fast paced, brief, and early in the morning to best meet employer schedules and provide key information about how employers can use existing state programs to grow their workforce,” agency Director Beth Townsend said in the news release.

The state agency will also lead support teams in conducting workforce needs assessments onsite for local employers. Participating employers can host them by emailing [email protected]. They will receive customized information about state programs and dedicated contacts.

“Our main goal with this effort is to work collaboratively to assist businesses in addressing their workforce challenges,” Iowa Workforce Development Public Information Officer Jesse Dougherty told The Center Square in an emailed statement.

More businesses are registering every day for the roundtables, he said.

“We expect to have employers represented at every roundtable event (25+), and we will also be doing dozens of employer assessments across the state to identify their direct needs,” he said.

Iowa Restaurant Association President and CEO Jessica Dunker told The Center Square in a texted statement that 35% of Iowa hospitality operators cite “the loss of key employees to other industries” as their biggest impediment to recovery their pre-pandemic workforce levels.

“We need big ideas from across the state to help us develop effective strategies for building back,” Dunker said. “We look forward to participating.”

To register, visit futurereadyiowa.gov/registration.

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