Iowa, Wisconsin among states with new bills that target meeting workforce needs

In many Midwestern states, the big policy question surrounding economic development these days isn’t how to create jobs, but how to make sure enough workers are available and ready to fill them.

Most of the region’s governors touched on this challenge in their State of the State addresses, and discussions this year in Iowa and Wisconsin highlight two ways of bolstering workforces — building talent from within the state, and doing more to keep it.

Iowa has set a goal of having 70 percent of its workers with education or training beyond high school by 2025, and two measures under consideration this year (HSB 602 and SSB 3087) seek to meet this “Future Ready” target. They include:
  • offering new incentives for smaller businesses to develop apprenticeship programs;
  • establishing a pilot initiative for at-risk youths to take part in summer internship programs related to high-demand careers;
  • encouraging employers to provide more training and education opportunities in high-demand careers via a newly created innovation fund; and
  • giving high school students more opportunities to attend summer classes at community colleges that align with high-demand careers.
In Wisconsin, lawmakers heard testimony this year on a pair of bills (which did not pass) aimed at retaining more young people who come to the state for school. “With nearly 100,000 job openings and an aging workforce, it’s urgent that we take action to recruit and retain new talent,” Rep. Dave Murphy said in committee testimony on AB 888.
The state’s universities and technical colleges annually graduate 3,000 out-of-state students, but only 1 in 10 of them remain in Wisconsin upon graduation. Under AB 888 and SB 732, these individuals would get new financial incentives to stay and work in Wisconsin — annual grants for up to five years, equal to 50 percent of the difference between in-state tuition and nonresident tuition rates.
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Stateline Midwest: March 20182.88 MB