Employers, schools form alliance to meet Iowa workforce needs

Iowa?s major employers and education officials have started a new group to recruit, hire and keep more workers in the state?s workforce.

The Iowa Business Council, made up of the 25 largest employers in the state, announced this week that it has formed the Business Education Alliance. The Alliance has 17 members, including Kelly Ortberg, CEO of Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids Community School District Superintendent Brad Buck and Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.

The group will bring members together ?to create and implement strategies that better align business and education to meet current and future workforce needs,? according to a news release, but specific goals or projects were not announced.

?Maintaining a growing and resilient state economy will require the creation and implementation of long-term education and workforce strategies that cultivate a diverse, highly skilled population. We believe that by working together on the Business Education Alliance we can achieve just that and prepare Iowa for continued economic growth,? Iowa Business Council Executive Director Georgia Van Gundy said in the release.

The alliance between Iowa businesses and school leaders is necessary, members said, because the top concern for Iowa companies is the ability to find employees. Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and, except for its major metro areas, slow or declining population growth.

Sixty-five percent of the Business Council?s members said ?attracting, developing and retaining a quality workforce? was their primary business challenge in a recent Business Council survey.