Iowa: Another state warns about increasing number of unfilled jobs

While the ripple effect of the credit crisis continues to make waves, state after state are releasing new reports detailing an increasing number of unfilled jobs. 

A new report just released from Iowa Workforce Development, says roughly 50,000 Iowa jobs are unfilled because of a lack of applicants, a number projected to triple in the near future because of retirements. Other researchers have said the shortage will be even greater. Peter Fisher, an economist with the Iowa Policy Project, has used Census data to project a shortage of 198,000 workers by 2014.

Since the beginning of March each of the following states or countries have released reports warning of severe skilled worker shortages:

In Iowa a majority of the vacancies are for jobs that require no experience and no post-secondary education. The industries with the greatest needs are services and health care, which together account for more than a third of the vacancies.

However, upcoming retirements are expected to increase the vacancies in jobs that require a college degree or specialized training, such as education services and manufacturing.

A special legislative panel last year recommended the following as solutions to head off the crisis:

— Improve the services that help young Iowans find jobs;

Expand programs that retrain older workers for new jobs;

— Find ways to attract more workers from outside Iowa.

You’ll recognize two solutions that I have commented on recently – retaining and retraining older workers and finding ways to attract more workers from outside Iowa. 

So here ya go – another state trying to hold onto retiring boomers while developing strategies to "poach" their neighbor’s workers.

With any scarce resource, hording is a natural response which drives up the value. Most employers have never been in this position before – a short and shrinking supply of skilled workers.  It is also very apparent that few are prepared and even fewer know how to respond effectively.  Recruitment and retention will remain hot topics for a very long time to come.


Ira S Wolfe