Making workforce work

Officials from across state gather at MCC for training

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Walter Simmons of Employ Prince George’s Inc. in Maryland was the keynote speaker at a workforce board training event held on the MCC campus Thursday.

An ever-changing and increasingly challenging workforce shortage will require knowledgeable and well-trained professionals to solve it, and that’s exactly what the men and women who gathered on the Marshalltown Community College campus on Thursday hoped to do.

MCC hosted a workforce board training event with a keynote speech from Walter Simmons of Employ Prince George’s Inc. in Maryland, and economic development and workforce leaders from all nine boards in Iowa made their way to Marshalltown for the training. Local officials like Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall, Chamber Workforce Development Coordinator Kyle Hall and County Supervisor Steve Salasek were also on hand.

Krista Tedrow, the executive director for the South Central Iowa Workforce Development Board, which covers a region that includes Marshall County, said the biggest lesson she took away was just how intertwined the various aspects of their fields really are.

“What we’re realizing is that economic development and workforce development are truly interdependent,” she said. “If we’re going to bring businesses here but we don’t even have the workers for the businesses that we have, how do we develop a community and bring in something new?”

Miranda Swafford, the executive director of the Mississippi Valley Workforce Development Board in far eastern Iowa, said the sessions provided innovative ideas to address the workforce shortages and better meet the needs of local job seekers. John Hall offered a similar assessment and stressed the importance of remembering what works and applying it to the current situation.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time we want to address a workforce challenge. There are folks doing incredible work all across the state, (and) there are folks doing incredible work all across the country, which is why we’ve got national speakers in today sharing what they’re doing and sharing the innovation they’re working towards,” Hall said.

Matthew Nicol, a staffing manager at HNI in Muscatine who attended the event, shared some of the challenges he has faced from the business side of the workforce shortage and how companies can overcome them.

“Specifically for us, it’s been about how do we innovate and really challenge our own internal thinking to really meet the labor needs of the business,” Nicol said. “From an innovation perspective, that’s what’s really helped us win and deliver the necessary labor need. We were able to identify unique pockets of applicants that were interested in a part-time perspective, and we were able to figure out how to deliver that type of labor to supplement our full-time.”

And if nothing else, the event gave the opportunity for people like John Hall and Kyle Hall to show visitors everything Marshalltown has to offer.

“We’re bullish on the Marshalltown community and the direction we’re going,” John Hall said. “Specifically, the workforce development boards and workforce development regions we’ve got are absolutely going to be a key component of growing our state and growing our local economies… Continuing to see partnerships across the state between economic developers and local workforce development boards is going to be absolutely crucial as we try to tackle these issues and find opportunities to grow our community.”


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.


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