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Sodders hosts forum on workforce training, business development

Senator talks to education, business leaders

December 14, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Several area education and business development leaders were able to weigh in on where the state can help them during a forum hosted by Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, at Marshalltown Community College Thursday.

Among the issues facing the state are the need for skilled workforce training to match the training to the available jobs out there.

Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Marvin Wade said there needs to be a focus on career and technical education to reach that segment that may not be heading to a traditional college.

Article Photos

Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, hosted a forum on workforce training at Marshalltown Community College Thursday. Also pictured is Angela Harrington, president of the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce.

"There's a lot more opportunity there that we are missing out on," Wade said.

Wade also said there should be an increased focus on digital literacy, which can be hard for schools when so much of their success is based on assessment tests.

"I think (digital literacy) has been neglected in the schools," Wade said.

Iowa Valley Community College District Chancellor Chris Duree said in order to train a skilled workforce they have to get those without a high school diploma back into the fold. He is again asking for state funding for Adult Basic Education programs, which are offered through the community colleges. Duree said with no state funding for programs like these, the college has to make up for it in other ways.

"We have to raise tuition and fees on other students that are coming through our doors," Duree said.

As far as catering training to match the available jobs, that is one of the goals of the Marshalltown Business Education Alliance. Ken Anderson, president of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce, said this has allowed businesses to help influence training for jobs.

On the business development side, Sodders brought up the idea of small business loans with help from the state. He said in some cases small businesses just need as little as $2,000 to help them grow, but they are running into road blocks.

"I'd still like to see something (on small business loans)," Sodders said. "We are trying to make small towns viable."

Sodders and the rest of his fellow state legislators will begin the 2013 legislative session on Jan. 14.



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