Ernst works on solutions to quell Iowa’s workforce hiring gaps

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) on Aug. 16 addressed workforce challenges in Iowa during a field hearing in Des Moines.

“With record-low unemployment and increasing wages, Iowa’s economy is booming and small businesses are continuing to expand,” Sen. Ernst said, noting that employers “are seeking to hire, but are struggling to find folks with the skills necessary to fill those jobs.”

The senator, who hosted and chaired the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee field hearing, focused on efforts at the federal level and by Iowa’s businesses, local employers, schools, and policymakers to rectify the workforce employment gaps in her home state. 

Witnesses included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R); Lana Pol, owner and president of Geetings Inc.; Rob Denson, president of the Des Moines Area Community College; and Fareway Stores President and CEO Reynolds Cramer.

During the hearing, Sen. Ernst also referenced related legislation she has introduced to provide solutions to the state’s workforce needs.

For instance, Sen. Ernst on Aug. 1 sponsored two bills to help states like Iowa gain more highly skilled workers.

The Economic Mobility, Prosperity, and Opportunity with Waivers that Enable Reforms for States (EMPOWERS) Act of 2019, S. 2416, would give states the option to apply for and receive temporary waivers to experiment with new approaches that integrate federal programs in order to provide more coordinated and holistic solutions to families in need, according to the bill’s text.

The bipartisan Wind Workforce Modernization and Training Act of 2019, S. 2415, would establish a grant program to train wind technicians, according to the congressional record.

“Through a number of my bills and by working closely with Governor Reynolds and our business and education community, together we’re helping to lift families out of poverty and into good-paying jobs, close our skills gap, and ensure Iowa workers and businesses continue to have the opportunities to grow and succeed,” Sen. Ernst said on Tuesday.