The Iowa Association of Business and Industry wants to clean up and modernize Iowans' perceptions of manufacturing as part of its efforts to address the growing shortage of skilled workers in the state. By 2018, the association anticipates that Iowa will have a shortfall of 6,672 skilled workers in the advanced manufacturing sector.

 

ABI, in partnership the Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, has launched a multipronged marketing and education effort that includes a new website, www.elevateiowa.com. The website features video testimonials, a self-assessment for potential career pathways, career search tools and information on training opportunities at Iowa's 15 community colleges.

 

"When you ask the average Iowan about advanced manufacturing, they think of an outdated image - a dirty, unsafe work environment," said Mike Ralston, ABI's president. "That simply is not the case. Iowa has strong, innovative companies that make cutting-edge products and are well-regarded as leaders in their industry."

 

The industry is critical to the state's economy; manufacturing generates more than 18 percent of the state's gross domestic product and accounts for about 215,600 jobs, or roughly 14 percent of the state's total employment.

 

It's not a bad career choice either, considering statistics on compensation.According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average manufacturing worker in Iowa earned $77,060 annually, including pay and benefits, while the average worker in other industries earned $60,168.

 

Iowa's 15 community colleges offer a broad range of training opportunities within advanced manufacturing, said Stephanie Ferraro, project manager for the manufacturing consortium. "With funding from the U. S. Department of Labor, the I-AM Consortium is building capacity in programs across the state," she said in a prepared statement. "Now is the ideal time for those considering careers in manufacturing to begin training at their local community college."

 

In addition to online tools, the Elevate Iowa campaign will provide curriculum integration with K-12 schools involving advanced manufacturing tours, speakers and demonstrations. The campaign will also host statewide events, including an exhibit at the Iowa State Fair with the American Welding Society booth.