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Ragan: Iowa must expand worker-training programs

This news story was published on March 1, 2013.
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Senator Amanda Ragan

Senator Amanda Ragan

From Senator Amanda Ragan –

Iowa businesses need skilled workers to compete and grow. Studies show that in the next five years, 62 percent of all Iowa jobs—that’s 1.1 million jobs—will require education and training beyond high school. However, nearly 300,000 of Iowa’s working-age adults do not have a high school diploma. Iowa is one of only three states that does not invest specifically in adult literacy. That spells trouble for the Iowa economy.

To fill skilled job openings at local businesses and ensure our state remains a competitor in the global marketplace, we must expand worker-training programs. This week, the Senate Education Committee approved SSB 1203, which provides funding for adult basic education and for basic worker training at our local community colleges.

The legislation also funds a Career Pathways program. It will connect education, training and support services to help Iowans looking to upgrade their skills. In addition, work-based learning will bring together employers, local governments, educators, community-based organizations, and labor and economic groups to develop training and education programs that address local workforce needs. This is a great way to help Iowans looking to improve their skills, while investing in the future of the Iowa economy.

Another way to help working Iowans is through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). EITC cuts taxes for working, lower-wage taxpayers who have earned income.

A bill this session, Senate File 88, would increase the state credit, helping three times as many Iowa families. Increasing the state EITC would help 210,000 Iowa taxpayers, including the families of 1/3rd of Iowa’s children. Giving these families a boost can move them out of poverty, increase college graduation rates and grow our economy with skilled workers who have more money to spend.

Most of those who’ll be helped earn less than $21,000 a year. These are the people who pay the largest share of their overall income in state and local taxes, according to the Iowa Fiscal Partnership.

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